Boris Johnson’s government is expected to open England’s borders to allow US and EU travellers who are fully vaccinated against Covid to enter without the need to quarantine, according to reports.
The plans, which would be a boost to the aviation and tourism sectors, are expected to be discussed by ministers at a Covid operations committee meeting on Wednesday.
The prime minister confirmed his government was considering a travel corridor with the US that allows people to “come freely from the US in a way that they normally do” during a LBC interview.
“We’re talking to [the US] the whole time,” he told LBC. “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.”
Talks are also expected between Whitehall officials and the devolved administrations on whether the change would apply to England only, or all four nations of the UK.
The changes are expected as soon as next week, while countries outside the EU and US could be allowed inbound quarantine-free travel at a later date, according to The Times.
It comes after aviation firms claimed a trial has demonstrated the UK can safely exempt fully vaccinated US and EU visitors from self-isolation.
Heathrow Airport, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic said their 10-day pilot scheme proved the vaccination status of travellers can be efficiently and accurately checked away from the border.
Around 250 fully vaccinated passengers on selected flights from New York, Los Angeles, Jamaica and Athens earlier this month presented their credentials using paper or digital formats before boarding the plane.
Some 99 per cent of their documents were verified as authentic, with just two passengers’ credentials rejected.
In one case there was a discrepancy between the name on the vaccine card and the name on the passport, while another involved someone who had been fully vaccinated less than 14 days before travel.
Currently, people arriving in the UK from amber list locations, such as the US, Jamaica, Spain, Italy and Greece, must have been had both doses of a coronavirus jab as part of the
UK’s vaccination programme to avoid the requirement to self-isolate for 10 days. This excludes those who have been jabbed elsewhere in the world.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has committed to holding a formal review of its rules for arriving travellers before Sunday. It is expected to announce when it will begin recognising vaccines administered in other countries.
BA 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 the need to self-isolate.
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.”
His 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 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.”
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