Foreign summer holidays could be saved for fully vaccinated British travellers under plans being drawn up by the government.
Proposals are reportedly being considered to allow people who have had both Covid jabs to avoid having to quarantine on their return from amber list countries although they will still have to be tested.
The change would effectively turn amber countries green for vaccinated people, opening up the possibility of quarantine-free travel to most major holiday destinations in Europe and the US, the Telegraph reported.
However, the proposals to ease the restrictions for vaccinated people are said to be at an early stage.
“They haven’t definitely got there yet, but that’s the direction of travel,” an unnamed senior source told the newspaper.
The plans are due to be ready to be discussed by the Cabinet Covid operations committee within the next fortnight, potentially in advance of the June 28 deadline when ministers have pledged to review the current travel traffic light for testing and quarantining travellers.
Officials are still working on whether any new regime would be limited to returning Britons or apply to all arrivals, what exemptions there could be for those who could not be vaccinated and whether children under 18 should be exempted given that they will not have been jabbed by July 19.
“It is still at an early stage and it is not clear whether it will be worked out in time for the end of the month. There is an awful lot to do. The devil is in the detail,” a source told the newspaper.
A government spokesman said: “Recognising the strong strategic rationale and success of the vaccine programme, we have commenced work to consider the role of vaccinations in shaping a different set of health and testing measures for inbound travel.”
Advantage Travel Partnership chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said tweeted: “This story is based on a leaked memo so right now there is no clarity. If it is true it would see UK following many EU countries who already gve their vaxxed citizens freedoms to travel to low rick countries.”
The development follows research by Public Health England (PHE), cited by the prime minister, which found the Pfizer vaccine was 96% effective against hospitalisation with the delta Covid variant after two doses and the AstraZeneca jab 92% effective.
Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “The welcome news from PHE that vaccines are highly effective against the delta variant following a full dose is further evidence that fully vaccinated passengers can safely be exempted from quarantine and testing restrictions from green and amber countries.
“This is already happening in Europe and across the world, and with two-thirds of UK adults expected to be fully jabbed by July 19, there is no reason why such a move cannot happen now to save the summer season and enable people to get away with their loved ones.
“This would be proportionate and data-driven and entirely consistent with the Government’s approach of using our vaccine dividend to safely unlock society and get the economy moving again.”
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, added: “The UK should follow the example of the US and the EU, who are reducing restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers, and give Britons their vaccine dividend.”
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “The government is confident that vaccinations are effective – so surely people who have been fully vaccinated should be able to travel without the need to quarantine or take expensive tests.
“The freedom of travel will not only incentivise people in this country to get vaccinated, it will also show other countries the benefits of scaling up their vaccination programmes.”
Meanwhile, a Euro Assistance poll found that more than half (57%) of Europeans expect to travel during the usual summer holiday period – down 6% from 2019.
Some countries are seeing double-digit drops in summer travel plans, such as Germany (-21 points), UK (-14 points) and Belgium (-12 points).
The British, Belgians and Americans lead the world in future travel optimism with most of them seeing travel returning to normal in 2022 or 2023.
Europ Assistance group head of travel Francine Abgrall said: “As we see the impact of the pandemic lingering into a second summer travel season, there is room for optimism.
“Several European countries are expecting increases in summer travel over 2019 numbers.
“Almost 70% of Europeans see travel returning to normal over the next three years.”