Britain considers vaccine passports to restart international travel

Published June 17, 2021
Passengers wearing protective face masks arrive from Paris at Eurostar terminal at St Pancras station. — Reuters
Passengers wearing protective face masks arrive from Paris at Eurostar terminal at St Pancras station. — Reuters

Britain is looking at easing travel restrictions, including allowing those who are double vaccinated against Covid-19 to enjoy a foreign holiday without intrusive red tape, a step that indicates vaccine passports are firmly back on the agenda.

Countries in the European Union (EU) last week agreed to an easing of travel restrictions over summer that will allow fully vaccinated tourists to avoid tests or quarantines and broaden the list of EU regions from which it is safe to travel.

Britain, whose vaccination programme has seen more than half of adults receive both doses of Covid-19 vaccine, is now considering similar plans, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Asked about the report, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Jesse Norman said that nothing was ruled out in considering how to reopen travel, but they would be cautious in introducing plans for so-called “vaccine passports”.

“We are trying to move cautiously and progressively in the right direction so I wouldn't write anything off at this point,” Norman told Sky News, adding that the virus was not something that could be controlled, “[So] it would be imprudent to make any carte blanche or... firm statement now.” Norman said it would be important to consider the issues of fairness for those who have yet to be offered shots or are unable to have them.

Under the plans, people who have had two doses of Covid-19 vaccine will be allowed to avoid quarantine on their return from amber list countries, although they will still have to be tested, the newspaper said. It added that officials are still working on whether any new regime would be limited to returning Britons or apply to all arrivals.

Britain allowed international travel to resume last month, but nearly all major destinations were left off its list of countries open for quarantine-free holidays.

Under the current traffic light system, travellers returning from green list countries take Covid-19 tests but do not need to quarantine. Amber country arrivals must self-isolate, and red country arrivals must quarantine in a hotel.

Countries on the amber list include Spain, France, Italy and the United States.

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