Grant Shapps today announced that from July 19 double-jabbed holidaymakers by able to visit ‘amber list’ countries without the need to quarantine on return.
The Transport Secretary confirmed that the self-isolation rules are being waived for the fully-vaccinated from so-called ‘Freedom Day’, in a boost for the stricken travel industry and Brits desperate to get away.
Children will also be exempted allowing families a far wider range of options for going abroad.
However, the requirement to get tests after two days after coming back will stay in place with ministers arguing it provides crucial genomic sequencing to detect dangerous variants.
The rule for England could add hundreds of pounds to the cost of holidays for families, as children will need to have the screening too.
PCR tests for holidaymakers returning from ‘green list’ destinations are also being kept – meaning for the double-jabbed the regime is the same for amber and green countries.
Meanwhile, sun-seekers could also find themselves hampered as many countries still have tough restrictions on Britons visiting amid concern about the Indian variant.
Holiday firms have been gearing up for a bookings surge with quarantine-free trips unlocked for millions of families to more than 130 countries – including the US, Thailand and most European countries.
The Transport Secretary is confirm today that new ‘amber list’ rules will kick in from July 19
Quarantine-free holidays are set to be unlocked for millions of families to more than 130 countries – including the US, Thailand and most European countries
The current traffic light system has very few countries on the green list for Britons to visit
As it stands, travellers returning from these destinations must quarantine for up to ten days – regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not.
Only travellers returning from a small list of green countries can avoid quarantine.
Mr Shapps told the Commons: ‘I can confirm today that from the 19th of July, UK residents who are fully vaccinated through the UK vaccine rollout will no longer have to self-isolate when they return to England.
‘They’ll still be required to take a test three days before returning, the pre-departure test, demonstrating they’re negative before they travel, and a PCR test on or before day two, but they will no longer be required to take a day eight test.
‘In essence, this means that for fully vaccinated travellers the requirements for green and amber list countries are the same.
‘To be clear, a full vaccination means 14 days have passed since your final dose of the vaccine, and it’s also important to note that health matters are devolved, so decision-making and implementation may differ across the UK administrations and we’ll continue to work with the devolved administrations to ensure we achieve our shared objectives of safe, sustainable and robust return to international travel.’
Mr Shapps said the changes he had announced would ‘prioritise those vaccinated in the United Kingdom’ – but suggested that foreign tourists coming to England could soon benefit from the same treatment.
‘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,’ he said.
Mr Shapps said he would update MPs in ‘due course’ about this.
Amid growing speculation in recent days, comparison site TravelSupermarket said more than half of all new bookings were for the last week of July or first week of August – up from 10 per cent a fortnight ago.
Meanwhile 62 per cent of all package holiday searches are for July/August, up 20 per cent on last month.
British Airways said searches for holidays to amber list countries on its website yesterday were up 45 per cent compared with the same day last week. And Jet2 said it had seen ‘enormous demand’ for flights.
Martin Nolan, of booking site Skyscanner, said: ‘It is clear that people are aching to be able to travel again… as evidenced by the immediate uptick in searches and bookings.’
Paul Charles, CEO of The PC Agency, a travel consultancy, said firms were racing to bring staff back off furlough to handle the expected surge in bookings.
He said: ‘My advice is for people to lock in tomorrow on the deals they see before there’s an announcement because prices will rise when demand spikes.
‘I think we will see a lot of last-minute bookings for trips at short notice. Families will confirm some trips but then you will get a lot of couples that are fully-jabbed.
‘I think there will be a rush to the border by the double-jabbed over-40s and the silver generation.
‘The pent up demands is enormous. There will be a lot of trips to long-distance, more exotic locations. But Spain, France and Portugal will also all do really well.’
He added: ‘One issue is resources and whether firms have the staff and capacity to deliver it.
What countries are on the ‘amber list’ for travel?
Akrotiri and Dhekelia
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Central African Republic
Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue
Czech Republic (Czechia)
Greece (including islands)
The Occupied Palestinian Territories
Papua New Guinea
Portugal (including the Azores) Madeira is on the green watchlist.
Sao Tome and Principe
Spain (including the Canary Islands) The Balearic islands are on the green watchlist.
St Kitts and Nevis
St Martin and St Barthélemy
St Pierre and Miquelon
St Vincent and the Grenadines
United States (USA)
Wallis and Futuna
‘I know some travel firms that are bringing people back from furlough to cope with the expected increase in demand.’
Under the revamped rules, the ‘do not travel’ advice will be dropped and vaccinated UK residents will be allowed to travel home from amber countries without the need to quarantine.
Children, who are not eligible for vaccination, will be exempted from self-isolation if they are travelling with family.
But they will have to take additional tests. According to the Telegraph, Mr Shapps has told the industry: ‘Day-two testing will remain for arrivals from amber countries, regardless of vaccinated status, as this pro vides genomic sequencing capability to identify the risk of importing variants.’
Those who have not received both vaccines will still have to quarantine when they arrive in the UK or face a £10,000 fine.
The change will make no difference to red list countries such as India, Turkey and Brazil.
Anyone returning from a red list country must quarantine in an approved hotel at a cost of £1,750 each.
British Airways said searches for holidays to amber list countries on its website yesterday were up 45 per cent compared with the same day last week