Travel quarantine will be axed for double-vaccinated Brits returning to England from amber list countries – starting in just 11 days’ time.
The vast majority of holiday hotspots will be opened up to fully-jabbed people in England after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a massive shift today.
Advice not to travel to amber list countries will be dropped, and Brits will be able to travel to them for leisure and to see family – if they’re allowed in.
On return, double-jabbed Brits coming from amber list countries will still need to take two PCR tests each – one before they fly back, and one on Day 2 of their return.
But this is less than the three tests required for the unvaccinated, as the ‘Day 8’ test will be axed for the double-jabbed. And crucially, double-vaccinated people will not need to self-isolate.
All children returning from amber list countries will also be exempt from self-isolation in the same way as vaccinated adults, Mr Shapps announced – even if their parents have not been jabbed.
Mr Shapps told MPs: “From July 19 UK residents who are fully vaccinated through the UK vaccine rollout will no longer have to self-isolate when they return to England.”
He added: “Children under 18 returning from amber list countries will not have to isolate on their return nor take a day eight test. Children between the ages of five and 10 will only need to take a day two test – and, as before, children four and under will be exempt from all testing and isolation requirements.”
It will effectively mean green and amber list rules are the same for the double-jabbed, he said.
People will be defined as fully-vaccinated if they had their second dose at least 14 days earlier.
But Brits could still face a summer of chaos and misery as millions look set to be pinged into self-isolation. Self-isolation in England for contacts of Covid cases will be dropped for the double-jabbed, but only from August 16.
Meanwhile, foreign countries could slap quarantine rules on Brits arriving at the other end, and restrictions already exist on Brits in several amber nations.
Mr Shapps warned amber list countries could still turn red if the tide of Covid turns later this summer.
Today’s announcement also does not cover non-UK residents – who will still have to self-isolate if they come to England from amber list countries.
And there will be no change to the red list rules. Foreign residents in those countries will be banned from entering the UK, and UK residents who return from them must isolate in a £1,750 hotel for 10 days.
Today’s announcement does not cover Scotland or Wales, which are yet to announce their rules for double-jabbed travel.
Nicola Sturgeon said she was “not ruling out” introducing the same rules for double-jabbed people returning to Scotland. She said: “We are considering that carefully… and will come to a decision on that fairly soon in terms of whether or not that will apply to people returning to Scotland.”
A Welsh Government Spokesperson said: “We are considering these proposals and all restrictions remain under constant review. Decisions about quarantine for people returning from amber-list countries to Wales will be made in Wales and we will make an announcement in due course.”
Former Prime Minister Theresa May, who has Heathrow Airport near her seat, hailed the statement as the “first step in opening up Britain for business”.
But she sounded the alarm over the prospect of “inordinately long queues” at the UK border as officials grapple with new rules.
Mr Shapps admitted travellers could face longer waits at check-in when flying home, where their passenger locator forms will have to be checked against both their PCR test and vaccine status.
Grant Shapps said the changes announced today would “prioritise those vaccinated in the United Kingdom”.
For now at least, in order to qualify a person’s vaccine has to have been administered through the NHS – so people who have been vaccinated overseas won’t qualify.
That could spell woe for British expats with dual residence who want to visit family in England.
Mr Shapps said: “We want to welcome international visitors back to the UK and are working to extend our approach to vaccinated passengers from important markets and holiday destinations later this summer, such as the United States and the EU.”
Mr Shapps said he would update MPs in “due course” about this but did not give a date.
Full list of amber list countries
This is the current list of amber list countries where the rules could be relaxed, though the list itself is set to be updated on or around July 19.
Please note that not all of these countries allow quarantine-free travel at both ends – some will require Brits to isolate when they arrive overseas.
- Akrotiri and Dhekelia
- The Bahamas
- Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Burkina Faso
- Central African Republic
- Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Czech Republic
- El Salvador
- Equatorial Guinea
- French Polynesia
- The Gambia
- Greece (including islands)
- Hong Kong
- Marshall Islands
- New Caledonia
- North Korea
- North Macedonia
- The Occupied Palestinian Territories
- Papua New Guinea
- Portugal (including the Azores) (Madeira is on the green watchlist)
- San Marino
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- South Korea
- South Sudan
- Spain (including the Canary Islands) (The Balearic islands are on the green watchlist)
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Maarten
- St Martin and St Barthélemy
- St Pierre and Miquelon
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- United States (USA)
- Wallis and Futuna
- Western Sahara