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Govt set to open borders to fully jabbed US and EU travellers without need to quarantine
27 July 2021, 22:31 | Updated: 28 July 2021, 08:06
England is set to open borders to allow US and EU travellers who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus to enter without the need to quarantine.
Ministers are considering the move, following a trial by Heathrow Airport, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic which showed the UK can safely exempt fully-vaccinated US and EU visitors from self-isolation.
Around 250 fully-vaccinated passengers on selected flights from New York, Los Angeles, Jamaica and Athens during the 10-day pilot scheme earlier this month presented their credentials in either digital or paper formats.
Just two of the passengers’ credentials were rejected – one due to a discrepancy between the name on the vaccine card and the name on the passport, and one because the person received their second jab within 14 days of travel - proving that the coronavirus vaccination status of travellers can be efficiently and accurately checked away from the border, the firms are claiming.
"We want people to be able to come from the US freely in a way that they normally do. We’re talking to them the whole time," the Prime Minister said.
"At the moment we’re dealing with a Delta wave, the US is dealing with a Delta wave, but be assured that we are on it the whole time. As soon as we have something to say about travel corridors you’ll be hearing from us."
The Department of Transport is expected to formally review the rules for travellers, which currently say that people arriving in the UK from amber list countries must have had their jabs as part of the UK's vaccination programme in order to avoid isolation.
The Government is expected to announce when it will begin recognising vaccines administered in other countries.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked on Tuesday if, as part of the latest travel review, people who have received Covid-19 jabs that are recognised overseas but not by the NHS could come to the UK without having to quarantine for 10 days.
He said: "We’re looking carefully at all the different types of vaccination and the MHRA will be announcing which ones are good and which ones aren’t."
Mr Johnson also said he understands "people’s anxiety about travel" and "will try to be as helpful as possible and give people as much notice as possible".
The Government is due to review travel restrictions in the next week, which could also see a number of countries being moved to the UK's green list as international travel continues to open up.
British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said the trial provides "the evidence the Government needs" to allow fully-vaccinated visitors from low-risk countries to enter the UK without self-isolating.
He went on: "The UK needs to safely reopen its borders as soon as possible to ensure loved ones can reunite, business can thrive and global Britain is able to take advantage of the UK's world-leading vaccination programme."
Mr Doyle's counterpart at Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss, warned that continuing the UK's "overly cautious approach" towards international travel will harm the economic recovery from the virus crisis and put half a million jobs at risk.
He claimed the trial shows that airlines would ensure an easing of the amber rules is "implemented smoothly at pace".
Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said: "The vaccine has been a miracle of science, and these trials have shown that we can allow fully-vaccinated passengers from the EU and US to visit the UK without quarantine.
"There is now no reason to delay with rolling out the solution from July 31."