Quarantine rules ditched for fully-vaccinated travellers from EU and US

Quarantine rules ditched for fully-vaccinated travellers from EU and US
Quarantine rules ditched for fully-vaccinated travellers from EU and US

Boris Johnson (pictured at the unveiling of a new UK police memorial) had privately voiced concerns the EU was further ahead in welcoming international travellers

Boris Johnson (pictured at the unveiling of a new UK police memorial) had privately voiced concerns the EU was further ahead in welcoming international travellers

Fully-vaccinated travellers from the EU and US are set to be spared quarantine after ministers signed off an exemption today.  

The powerful 'Covid O' group is understood to have agreed that the self-isolation requirements can be dropped for some of the UK's major trading partners.

Ex-pats who have received jabs abroad are also set to benefit from the dispensation, which takes effect from 4am Monday. All will still need to get tests in a bid to reduce the risk that they are infected.

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: 'We've taken great strides on our journey to reopen international travel and today is another important step forward. Whether you are a family reuniting for the first time since the start of the pandemic or a business benefiting from increased trade – this is progress we can all enjoy.

'We will of course continue to be guided by the latest scientific data but thanks to our world-leading domestic vaccination programme, we're able to look to the future and start to rebuild key transatlantic routes with the US while further cementing ties with our European neighbours.'

Boris Johnson had privately voiced concerns the EU was further ahead in welcoming international travellers and the UK risked 'squandering its vaccine bonus'.

The policy decision applies to England, but there is an expectation that Scotland and Wales will follow suit.  

However, Labour has branded the approach 'reckless', warning it risks importing more variants. 

The boost for tourism businesses comes amid a wave of optimism after coronavirus cases tumbled for a seventh day running - with ministers privately claiming the crisis is now 'all over bar the shouting'. 

The get-out from quarantine does not apply to France, which is 'amber plus' at the moment amid alarm about the Beta strain. But Whitehall sources are increasingly confident that it will be downgraded to 'amber' when the categories are reviewed next week.  

Meanwhile, holidaymakers could face fresh chaos amid claims Spain is on the verge of being pushed up to the 'amber plus' list.

The move - which could leave hundreds of thousands of Britons having to self-isolate unexpectedly on return - is believed to be on the cards amid growing concern about cases of the South African variant.  

On the domestic front, Mr Johnson said this morning that dropping self-isolation rules for people who are 'pinged' is 'nailed on' for August 16. But he is defying furious Tory demands for the date to be brought forward, amid warnings from businesses of food shortages caused by so many staff being off. 

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As the country waits anxiously for the next phase of the pandemic: 

Scotland's Covid hospitalisations are now falling in line with cases, according to official data which raises hopes that England could soon follow suit;  Boris Johnson has slapped down Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove for branding vaccine refusers 'selfish' and warning they could be barred from venues; The Department of Health admitted daily testing was just as effective as self-isolation; The International Monetary Fund upgraded its forecasts to predict the UK economy would bounce back with 7 per cent growth this year;  Leaked Covid hospitalisation figures suggested almost half of patients tested positive only after being admitted; A further 131 virus-related deaths were reported yesterday – the highest figure since March – while Covid patients in hospital rose to 5,918.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the overhaul was an 'important step forward' for the travel industry

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the overhaul was an 'important step forward' for the travel industry

The UK has a far higher case rate than the US currently - but the countries are on different trajectories

The UK has a far higher case rate than the US currently - but the countries are on different trajectories 

What are the rules on returning to England from an amber list country? 

Since July 19, people who have received both vaccine doses in the UK at least 14 days prior to travelling have not been required to self-isolate when returning from 'amber list' destinations.

They are also not obliged to take a Covid test on day eight after getting back. 

However, that get-out does not apply to 'amber plus' France at the moment amid concerns about the prevalence of the Beta - or South African - strain.  

Non-vaccinated people returning from 'amber list' countries must take a private PCR or lateral flow test in the three days before departing for England.

Before arriving back you must also book and pay for day two and day eight Covid-19 tests.

You can choose to pay for a private Covid-19 test on day five, and if it is negative that ends self-isolation.  

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The UK economy is estimated to be losing as much as £639million every day because of the current limits in place on incoming tourists.

After the fully-vaccinated EU and US travellers, other countries could be added to the quarantine-free travel list at a later date.

Since July 19, double jabbed Britons have been able to travel to and from amber list countries without quarantining upon their return, but the same right was not extended to those who received jabs abroad.

The plans would initially only apply to England but other UK nations could follow suit.

Under the proposals, airlines will be expected to approve passengers' vaccine status before check-in for England-bound flights, to prevent huge queues at passport control.

A trial was carried out by Heathrow, BA and Virgin which found they could overcome 99 per cent of the difficulties in verifying the vaccination status of travellers from the US.

Different states have different paper and digital certificates, but airports and airlines are hoping for the new rules to be smoothly adopted.

Ministers will also approve plans to allow all double vaccinated expats to travel to the UK from amber list countries without the need to quarantine.

Only Britons vaccinated by the NHS are currently exempt from quarantine. 

Travellers who transit through certain red country hubs such as Dubai, Doha, Istanbul, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi could also avoid hotel quarantine if they remain airside during their connections, according to The Telegraph.

However, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner condemned the plans for quarantine exemptions. 

'This is reckless. We know that the Delta variant came into this country and delayed the lifting of some of the restrictions and caused infections here,' she told Sky News.

'We need to make sure that we have got data driven analysis and we look at an international passport for vaccines.

'We also know that people who have had the vaccine of course can still get the virus, so a testing regime is very important and crucial as well.'

Holiday cover blow

Families who lose their holidays because one or more member is 'pinged' face losing their cash as well.

Many travel insurance policies will not cover people who have to cancel after a notification to self-isolate from the NHS Test & Trace app.

Nine in 10 policies do pay out if the policyholder tests positive for Covid. But this falls to six in 10 when a trip is cancelled due to a ping, said analysts Defaqto. Amid fears of a hit to bookings, package holiday firm TUI is allowing people pinged to change their dates for free.

Anna-Marie Duthie, from Defaqto, said some insurers would be sympathetic, but added: 'Policyholders should read their policies carefully to be sure they fully understand what cover they have, and if in doubt contact their insurers before changing any travel plans.'

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Pressure to change Spain's designation follows concern about the Beta variant, which emerged in South Africa and is thought to be more resistant to the AstraZeneca vaccine given to millions in the UK. 

A Whitehall source said: 'The situation in Spain is beginning to feel a lot like the build-up to the decision on France.

'The

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