Travel to the UK’s amber list countries will be quarantine-free on return for fully vaccinated Brits “later this summer,” under government plans still being decided.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the government is still considering plans and will set out further details on amber list travel in July, delaying what the travel industry had hoped would be an all-clear for summer holidays.
“Thanks to our successful vaccination programme, our intention is that later in the summer UK residents who are fully vaccinated will not have to isolate when travelling from amber list countries,” Shapps said.
Malta, Madeira, the Balearic Islands, and some Caribbean Islands including Barbados were added to the Government’s green list for travel this evening.
The transport secretary confirmed that as of 4am next Wednesday 30 June, people entering the UK from these countries will not have to quarantine.
But the vast majority of popular holiday destinations remain on the “amber list”, meaning that people have to quarantine on their return to the UK.
In the lead up to this evening’s announcement, the travel industry united in its call for the amber list changes to coincide with the UK’s new “freedom day”, 19 July.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “It is very positive news that ministers are following the science and that fully vaccinated people will be able to travel safely without quarantine later this summer.”
He added that the airport would work with the Government to make the amber list changes happen as soon as possible.
But others in the travel industry slammed the government’s “overly cautious approach.”
Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said the government’s announcement of an expanded travel green list “fails to go far enough”, and that £23m in economic value is restricted each day while the US remains on the amber list.
“The UK has already fallen behind the EU’s reopening and a continued overly cautious approach will further impact economic recovery and the 500,000 UK jobs that are at stake,” Weiss added.
Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee also urged the government to implement the amber list plans as soon as possible “to save what remains of the summer season.”
“Any extension of the green list is welcome, however small, but we also have to be realistic: this is not yet the meaningful restart the aviation industry needs to be able to recover from the pandemic,” she said.
In the lead up to the government announcement, travel insurance provider AllClear published new research that showed six times more Brits would now feel safe going abroad for a beach holiday than this time last year.
Despite this pent-up demand, they also found that people are taking travel precautions seriously: almost half of British adults would pick a destination based on its safety in terms of Covid-19, and 47 per cent would now consider the risk of the country going back into lockdown.
“The traffic light system needs to be replaced by an industry-wide move to make safety the number one consideration for the future of travel,” CEO of AllClear Chris Rolland said.
Even if the rules are relaxed by the UK government, British holidaymakers could face yet another obstacle: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on EU countries to force all UK travellers to quarantine on arrival, amid fears over the Delta Covid-19 variant.
French president Emmanuel Macron has joined Merkel’s push to keep the Delta variant out, and said it was necessary for all of Europe to be “vigilant”.
27 EU leaders have agreed a statement at a summit in Brussels that echoed this sentiment, saying the EU would be “vigilant and coordinated” in its response to the spread of new variants.