Plans to introduce quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated Brits are being worked on by the UK government, Matt Hancock has confirmed.
The Health Secretary said that ministers are looking to scrap the requirement to self-isolate for 10 days after returning to the UK from an amber list country, but warned international travel remains a “difficult” area.
Plans are still in progress
The UK government is looking to replace the quarantine requirement with daily Covid-19 testing instead, although it has not been clinically advised yet.
A date for the change to quarantine rules has not yet been confirmed, but ministers are currently “working with clinicians” to ensure the plan is safe and secure to introduce.
Mr Hancock said the government hopes to relax restrictions on foreign travel soon following the continued success of the vaccination programme, but warned the approach will be cautious so as not to undo the progress being made in driving down cases in the UK.
Speaking on LBC radio, he said: “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.”
Brits will need to show vaccination status
The Health Secretary said the main NHS app, which is different from the Covid-19 app and records vaccination status, is “important” as countries are likely to need proof that Britons travelling abroad have had their jabs.
Six million people have now downloaded the app and it is expected that Brits will need to use it to show proof they have been vaccinated when entering other countries.
Mr Hancock said: “We can now, all of us, see our vaccine status, see your testing status, on the NHS app.
“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.”
A ‘difficult year for travel’
While plans to lift all lockdown restrictions in England on 19 July remain on track, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has played down suggestions that restrictions on foreign travel could be lifted soon.
Mr Johnson said on Monday (21 June) that it will be a “difficult year for travel” as the priority is on keeping the UK safe, and preventing the virus coming back in.
The next travel update is due to take place on 28 June, after which it is hoped more countries will be added to the green list.
The current limited ability to travel abroad has prompted Ryanair and Manchester Airports Group, which owns Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands Airports, to prepare to take legal action, with both calling for greater transparency on how Whitehall decides which countries are added to the green, amber and red lists.