Quarantine-free travel for double-jabbed ‘in time for school summer holidays’

Quarantine-free travel for double-vaccinated holidaymakers could be introduced by July 26, the first full week of the school holidays, according to a report in The Times.

The relaxation would only apply to UK residents with access to the NHS at first but a deal to extend it to all citizens of the European Union is reportedly poised to be signed.

The UK is said to be close to an agreement with Brussels that will ensure British holidaymakers can use the NHS app to prove they have been double-jabbed.

All EU countries would recognise the NHS app as a vaccine certificate, while the UK would recognise the EU’s digital green card under a mutual recognition arrangement.

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The app would also prove travellers’ Covid status through testing, enabling them to go to countries that allow quarantine-free travel under condition of a negative PCR test, such as Spain.

At present the UK government is having to co-ordinate with individual countries that have chosen to accept the NHS app as a vaccine certificate.

UK ambassadors in Europe have been told to make lobbying for the lifting of restrictions on British holidaymakers a priority as the green list is expanded this month.

It is part of a cross-government push to reopen foreign travel in time to give families the chance to book a holiday abroad after 16 months of coronavirus restrictions.

A government source told the newspaper: “The big focus for us is Europe now. All European ambassadors have been told to go lobby.”

However, the Home Office has not yet decided whether the verification of Covid certification will take place before passengers travel, at border control, or via spot checks by officials who at the moment are checking on people who are supposed to be quarantining.

The Times pointed to government sources suggesting that Sajid Javid’s appointment as health secretary had brought forward the government’s target date for introducing quarantine-free travel for vaccinated travellers.

A minister said: “The intention is that it will be in place by the first week of the summer holidays.”

Another Conservative MP said: “We’re basing quite a lot of hope on Sajid Javid, we think his return to government will make a big change in the government’s approach to international travel.”

A senior government source added: “No final decision has been made on timing yet. There are various issues that need to be worked through and we are waiting for public health advice on exemptions and operational factors.

“Those need to be worked through before we set out further details but the expectation is it will be the end of July or the beginning of August.”

Vision Box, a company that operates all of the UK’s e-passport gates, said that it had the technology ready to scan vaccination certificates from both the UK and the EU.

On Tuesday, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed new rules allowing fully vaccinated travellers to avoid quarantine when returning from amber destinations will be introduced in stages.

Shapps told MPs that recognition of vaccinated travellers would involve “a complicated policy that requires time to work through”.

He echoed the Department for Transport announcement issued last Thursday (June 24) by saying three issues need to be worked out – how children will be considered; what happens to people who can’t be vaccinated; and how to recognise people’s vaccine status at ports and airports.

More: Lateral flow tests offer amber travel hope for fully vaccinated adults

Jet2 backs move for quarantine-free travel to amber countries

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