UK Planning to Allow for Vaccinated Travellers
British officials are considering plans to open up international travel for passengers who’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, allowing a resumption of tourism to more countries and territories including the US and some of the most popular European destinations.
While the UK technically reopened for international travel in mid-May, it maintains a “traffic light” system, by which it categorises countries as “green”, “amber” or “red”, with each level carrying specific sets of progressively heightened quarantine and testing requirements.
Under the policy, which is still being discussed by government officials, people who have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine would not need to quarantine upon entry from medium-risk countries on the so-called amber list..
That would provide a major boost to airlines and tourism businesses, which have been battered since cross-border travel was restricted last year. While airline shares surged on the possible adjustment, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said Thursday that “absolutely no decisions” have been made.
In contrast, the European Commission’s guidelines have just shifted to enable quarantine-free leisure travel from the US with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
Legal Action by the Aviation Industry
Only a small group of foreign nations made it onto the UK’s “green” list while popular destinations like Spain, France, Italy and the United States were relegated to the “amber” category. Travel from amber countries is discouraged, and all arrivals must comply with a series of testing requirements and full 10-day quarantine upon entering the UK.
With the summer tourism season now underway, the airline industry is desperate for a relaxation of these restrictions, which are deterring travel at the time of year that typically generates them the most revenue.
Europe’s largest airline, Ryanair, and other airlines have been railing against the British administration’s travel rules, which currently make no allowances for visitors or returning nationals who are fully vaccinated. The travel sector has repeatedly pressed the government to grant quarantine-free entry to vaccinated travellers, and to ease restrictions for certain lower-risk regions, such as Malta, and the Spanish and Greek Islands.
It has been reported that on 17 June, Ryanair teamed up with Manchester Airports Group (MAG) to take legal action against Britain over its “traffic light” system, and officially filed papers for judicial review with England’s High Court. Other airlines are expected to join the action in the coming days.
In response, the UK Department for Transport actually indicated that it is considering how vaccination status might play into Britain’s international travel policies moving forward. Over half of adults in the UK have already received both doses of the vaccine, which represents far better vaccination progress than the rest of Europe.
We have commenced work to consider the role of vaccinations in shaping a different set of health and testing measures for inbound travel.UK government spokesperson
Following the EU
It has been reported that the British government was contemplating following the EU’s lead in allowing fully vaccinated foreign tourists.
We are trying to move cautiously and progressively in the right direction, so I wouldn’t write anything off at this point.Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury
The UK is currently trying to contain the rapidly spreading Delta COVID-19 variant, which came from India and is responsible for a 50% increase in infections across England since May. This prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to delay his planned full reopening of the domestic economy, which had been scheduled for 19 July.
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