Quarantine-free travel to amber list countries for people who have received two doses of a Covid vaccine is “absolutely something” the Government is working on, Matt Hancock has said.
The Health Secretary said the move “hasn’t been clinically advised yet,” but that ministers are currently “working on it”.
“When I’m in a position to be able to say something then we will do,” he told Sky News. “But it’s absolutely something we’re working on and it’s something I want to see.”
The move would effectively render amber countries green for the fully vaccinated, opening up quarantine-free travel to most holiday destinations in Europe and the US.
The change could be announced as soon as Thursday, when the next travel review of the traffic light system is expected, The Times reported today.
Fully-vaccinated people returning to the UK from amber list countries would not need to quarantine at home for 10 days from August, according to the newspaper.
It means quarantine-free holidays to destinations such as France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and the US would be back on the cards for millions of Brits.
Almost 31.5 million people across the UK have received both doses of a Covid vaccine, while a further 11.7 million have had their first jab.
However, the Prime Minister warned yesterday that the summer will likely still see “hassle” and delays for British holidaymakers.
“I want to stress that this is going to be, whatever happens, a difficult year for travel. There will be hassle, there will be delays. But our priority has got to be to stop virus coming back in,” Boris Johnson told reporters.
The traffic light system for foreign travel was introduced last month in a bid to open up travel to countries deemed safe enough not to carry a significant risk of importing new Covid variants.
Just 11 countries are currently on the green list, including Australia, Iceland and Israel. People returning to the UK from those destinations do not need to quarantine upon arrival.
The bulk of Europe is on the amber list, meaning passengers must self-isolate for up to 10 days when they return to the UK.
Meanwhile, people returning from any of the 50 countries on the red list must quarantine at a government-selected hotel at a cost of £1,750 per adult.
A relaxation of restrictions for those who have had both Covid jabs would likely appease the aviation industry, which has seen demand plummet since the traffic light system came into effect.
Ryanair and the owner of Manchester and Stansted airports last week launched legal action against the Government over the traffic light system.
The pair has filed papers to the High Court seeking transparency about how the Government decides which countries qualify for the green list of safe destinations to visit during the pandemic.
Just 89 out of 23,465 people – or 0.4 per cent of travellers – tested positive for the virus on their return from 167 amber list countries, NHS Test and Trace figures for 20 May to 9 June show.
Noel Josephides, chairman of travel agency Sunvil and former chairman of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said: “Our partners don’t trust anything the UK government says because it changes all the time.
“Europe’s moving ahead of us. We’re being left behind and our whole industry is being destroyed.”