politics

Plan to scrap travel quarantine for double-jabbed expected on Thursday


Plans to scrap quarantine rules for people with both Covid-19 vaccinations are expected to be announced on Thursday.

The Mirror understands the Government is working towards unveiling the proposals on Thursday, but this has yet to be finalised.

It’s thought the new rules will allow double-jabbed people travel to amber list countries without having to stay at home for 10 days after returning to the UK.

But it’s unclear when the new rules will take effect.

Earlier, Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced rules requiring double-jabbed people to isolate after coming into close contact with someone who has tested positive – but not until August 16.

Asked today when the changes to travel quarantine rules would come in, Mr Javid said: “Very, very soon, and the Secretary of State for Transport [Grant Shapps] will have more to say on this very shortly.”

But even if the UK border rules are relaxed, holidaymakers would still be subject to the travel rules of their destination.

A number of countries, including Malta and Portugal, still have mandatory quarantines in place for people arriving from Britain.

And Belgium has banned all travel from the UK, despite being on our ‘amber list’.



The Government is understood to be working towards Grant Shapps making an announcement on Thursday
The Government is understood to be working towards Grant Shapps making an announcement on Thursday

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference last night, Boris Johnson said: “We will maintain tough border controls, including the red list and recognising the protection afforded by two doses of vaccine.

“We will work with the travel industry towards removing the need for fully vaccinated arrivals to isolate on return from an amber country.”

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Mr Javid said: “Step by step, jab by jab, we are replacing the temporary protection of the restrictions with the long-term protection of the vaccine so we can restore the freedoms which we cherish and the experiences which mean so much for us all.”

From August 16 anyone who is a close contact of a positive case will no longer have to self-isolate if they have received two doses of a vaccine and have given the second jab a fortnight to take effect.

As under-18s are not routinely jabbed, a similar exemption from self-isolation rules will be extended to them.

Contacts will be encouraged to take a PCR test, and anyone who is positive for coronavirus will have to self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status.

“This new approach means that we can manage the virus in a way that is proportionate to the pandemic while maintaining the freedoms that are so important to us all,” Mr Javid said.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson set out plans to scrap the “bubble” system which has led to classes – or even whole schools – being forced to stay at home.

Around 640,000 state school pupils – 8.5% of England’s total – did not attend class for Covid-related reasons on July 1, according to Department for Education (DfE) statistics.

Mr Williamson said: “We recognise that the system of bubbles and isolation is causing disruption to many children’s education.

“That is why we’ll be ending bubbles and transferring contact tracing to the NHS Test and Trace system for early years settings, schools and colleges.”

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The changes will come in at Step 4 of the road map.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will update MPs later this week on how to remove the need for fully-vaccinated arrivals to isolate when they return from an amber list country.

The announcements follow Mr Johnson’s gamble on trusting vaccines and the common sense of the English public, once legal restrictions in England are lifted.

Mr Javid suggested cases could rise to more than 100,000 a day in the summer once the rules are removed.

He told MPs: “I understand that some people are cautious about the idea of easing restrictions, but we must balance the risks – the risks of a virus that has diminished but not defeated, against the risks of keeping these restrictions and the health, social and economic hardship that we know they bring.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for a “U-turn on mask-wearing”, telling Mr Javid: “Yes, let’s have freedom, but not a high-risk free-for-all.

“Keep masks for now, fix sick pay, and let’s unlock in a safe and sustainable way.”

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the vaccine rollout and attempts to suppress coronavirus infection rates must go “hell for leather” in order to prevent a significant increase in long Covid.

Speaking at the Local Government Association’s conference he said: “Since there’s a lot of Covid at the moment and the rates are going up, I regret to say I think we will get a significant amount more long Covid, particularly in the younger ages where the vaccination rates are currently much lower.”

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It was not clear how much of a problem long Covid would be “but I think we should assume it’s not going to be trivial”.





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