Hopes are rising for a foreign summer holiday season in August as ministers are ‘working on’ plans to exempt fully vaccinated Britons from quarantine rules.
Matt Hancock confirmed ministers are looking at how to scrap the requirement for people to isolate for 10 days on return from an amber list country.
The Health Secretary said he is ‘in favour of moving forward in this area’ and replacing quarantine with daily testing.
Mr Hancock also said the country remains ‘on track’ to see the remaining domestic coronavirus restrictions lifted on the new ‘freedom day’ of July 19.
On the issue of travel quarantine, Mr Hancock told Sky News: ‘This hasn’t been clinically advised yet – we’re working on it.
‘We’re working on plans to essentially allow the vaccine to bring back some of the freedoms that have had to be restricted to keep people safe.
‘After all, that’s the whole purpose of the vaccination programme, that’s why it’s so important that every adult goes out and gets the jab.’
His comments came amid growing anger in the tourism and aviation sectors over the Government’s traffic light system as travel bosses demand the restrictive rules are overhauled.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, confirmed that ministers are looking at how to scrap the requirement for people to isolate for 10 days on return from an amber list country. A beach in Mallorca, Spain, is pictured on June 7
Foreign destinations on the UK’s amber list and whether they are open or closed to UK visitors.
Asked if the new plans could be in place as soon as August, Mr Hancock said: ‘We’ll get there when it’s safe to do so.’
Speaking on LBC Radio, Mr Hancock said the Government is being ‘cautious about international travel’ in order to protect the progress made against Covid-19 at home.
He added: ‘Having said that, the whole point of the vaccine programme is to be able to remove restrictions, and for people to be able to be kept safe by the vaccine rather than by these rules.
‘So we are working on a plan for the double-vaccinated people, using tests, and to have that testing regime in place, instead of having to have the quarantine in some circumstances.
‘We’re working with the clinicians, because we want to make sure the plan is safe and secure, so I can’t give you a date but what I can tell you is that I’m in favour of moving forward in this area.’
The Health Secretary also said the Government is ‘on track’ for the July 19 easing of restrictions in England, but acknowledged that opening up travel abroad is ‘more difficult’.
He told Sky News: ‘Thankfully, because of the vaccination programme, we have been able to free up a huge number of the restrictions here at home.
‘We are on track to deliver the Step 4, the further openings, on July 19, which is good.
‘We are also looking to see how we can replace the protections that are currently there with the restrictions with protections that come from the vaccine, with respect to international travel as well.
‘But it is more difficult freeing up international travel.’
Mr Hancock said the main NHS app, which is different from the Covid-19 app and records vaccination status, is ‘important’ as many countries are likely to require proof of having had a jab as a condition of allowing entry.
‘We can now, all of us, see our vaccine status, see your testing status, on the NHS app,’ he said.
‘Six million people have now downloaded the main NHS app and on that you can show whether you have had the jabs.
‘It’s important because we know other countries are going to say that they want proof that you have been vaccinated before you go.
‘So, when travel is opened up, we are going to make sure people have got that ability to prove it.’
Boris Johnson yesterday played down suggestions that restrictions on foreign travel could be lifted in the near future.
Speaking during a visit to a laboratory in Hertfordshire, the Prime Minister said: ‘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, I am afraid, because the priority has got to be to keep the country safe and stop the virus coming back in.’
People returning from a green list country are not required to quarantine, but there are no major viable tourist destinations in that tier following the removal of Portugal.
The amber list includes some of the most popular summer hotspots such as Spain, Italy, France and Greece.
Ryanair and Manchester Airports Group – which owns Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands Airports – are preparing legal action against the Government, calling for more transparency over how Whitehall decides which countries are on the green, amber and red lists.
The first ‘checkpoint’ review since the traffic light system was introduced is due to take place on June 28.