Wednesday 7 July 2021 8:15 am

Airlines begin checking vaccination status as end to quarantine beckons

Daily news reporter in City A.M.'s London newsroom

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow will this week begin checking the vaccination status of travellers arriving from amber list countries in preparation for the easing of travel restrictions this month.

Later this week transport secretary Grant Shapps is expected to announce that fully vaccinated travellers from amber list countries will be exempt from isolation rules.

The Times reported that the new rules could come into effect on 19 July, in line with the lifting of other restrictions, but the date is yet to be confirmed.

Allowing travel to amber list countries without the threat of isolation would open up countries such as France, Greece, and Spain, just ahead of the school summer holidays.

Under the new scheme, fully vaccinated travellers on selected BA and Virgin flights will be invited to take part in a proving trial, presenting their Covid vaccination credentials in paper or digital format.

Sharing anonymised data with the UK government, the scheme aims to demonstrate how travellers’ vaccination statuses can be quickly checked away from the UK border.

Travellers will be able to show internationally recognised vaccine credentials, such as the NHS app, CDC card, US state-level digital certification and EU Digital Covid Credential, when arriving at Heathrow. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will also support vaccine certification through their digital platforms.

Participants in the trial, arriving from the US, Caribbean and Europe, will still have to quarantine in line with current restrictions on amber list countries.

Sean Doyle, British Airways CEO said: “We are already helping our customers show proof of their vaccination status when travelling to a number of other countries outside the UK which require it, and we’re confident we can make this happen for entry to Britain too, very quickly.

“We look forward to providing the data that proves it’s simple for fully vaccinated status to be verified and to the Government meeting its commitment to get the country moving again.”

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO, said the “proof-of-concept” trial “demonstrates our readiness as an industry to rapidly operationalise the new policy, and work with Government and authorities” to ensure a smooth end to self-isolation restrictions.

John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow added: “This pilot will allow us to show that pre-departure and arrival checks of vaccination status can be carried out safely at check in, so that fully vaccinated passengers can avoid quarantine from the 19th July. “