Fully-vaccinated travellers will no longer have to self-isolate on arrival into England from amber list countries from July 19, the transport secretary has confirmed.
They will still be required to take a pre-departure test three days before they travel and a PCR test on day two of their arrival, but arrivals will no longer have to take a test after day eight, Grant Shapps told the House of Commons.
Government guidance warning against travel to countries on the amber list will also be removed on July 19.
There will be no changes to requirements applying to arrivals from red list countries, even if travellers are fully-vaccinated. And Shapps stressed “an amber country could still turn red”.
Children under the age of 18 will not have to self-isolate on return from amber list countries, or take a day eight test. Children between the ages of five and ten will no longer need to take a day two test and children four and under will be exempt from all testing.
Those on approved clinical trials in the UK will also not have to self-isolate on return from an amber country.
The main NHS app, not the specific NHS Covid app, will be accepted as proof of vaccination status.
Passengers returning to England must include their vaccination status on their Passenger Locator Forms to be free of quarantine. Transport operators and carriers will be responsible for checking this proof, before they board.
Shapps said more than 30 countries and territories are now recognising vaccine certification as part of entry requirements and accepting a proof of vaccination letter, or the NHS app. He said the government would aim to “continue to increase that number so that the NHS app becomes the natural default”.
“In essence this means that, for fully-vaccinated travellers, the requirements for green an amber list countries are the same,” Shapps said.
A ‘full vaccination’ means 14 days have passed since both doses of the vaccine have been received, he explained.
Health matters are devolved to UK nations. Shapps noted: “Decision making and implementation may differ across UK administrations”.
Shapps said he would update the House of Commons “in due course” on the government’s plans to acknowledge vaccinated visitors from “important markets and holiday destinations” like the US and EU, noting: “The change I’m announcing today will prioritise those vaccinated in the United Kingdom.”
He also urged travellers to check Foreign Office (FCDO) advice before travelling to a destination.
Shapps told the House: “We know that travel is important and many people have not been able to travel for the last year and a half.
“This is not just about holidays, eager as we are for time in the sun, but it is also about reunited families that have been apart throughout this pandemic.
“It’s about helping businesses to trade and grow and it’s about supportng aviation – a sector which hundreds of thousands of jobs rely on.”
He said the government has backed the aviation sector with £7 billion of support throughout the pandemic.
But he accepted: “The only way for them to actually recover, is to allow them to fly and for travel to resume again.”
However, Shapps insisted: “As we begin to ease restrictions, travel will not be the same as before – say in 2019
“People should continue to check Foreign Office travel advice, travel where possible outside of busy weekend times and, importantly, should expect their experience at the border will be different because of course longer waiting times will be necessitated by risks. Public health remains our key priority.”