| 24 April 2024, Wednesday |

England to drop COVID-19 quarantine for fully-jabbed travelers from EU, US

The UK is preparing to allow fully inoculated travelers from the EU and US to avoid quarantine when they arrive in England, according to newspaper reports.

Ministers are expected to discuss the isolation exemption at a Covid Operations meeting on Wednesday, according to the BBC.

But they said a decision on whether to proceed will not necessarily be taken.

Downing Street and the Department for Transport refused to comment on newspaper reports the government would go ahead with the plan.

Since July 19, fully inoculated UK residents have been allowed to travel to and from countries on the government’s amber list without quarantining on their return. However, this right was denied to those who were inoculated outside the UK.

Under new suggested rules, the government will recognize vaccine credentials issued specifically in the EU and US, including the EU’s digital COVID-19 certificate.

The travel industry has been pushing for a relaxation of quarantine rules for travelers from the EU and US after completing a trial of checking the vaccination status of passengers.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow Airport wanted to demonstrate that vaccination status could be checked away from the border and allow safe entry to the UK from countries on the amber list.

The companies said 99 percent of documents were verified correctly during the 10-day trial, which involved about 250 fully-vaccinated participants from the US, the Caribbean and Europe, traveling to Heathrow.

Two passengers had their credentials rejected, the companies said: one because their vaccination was completed less than 14 days before travel, and the other because of a discrepancy between the name on the passport and on the vaccine card.

Under current rules, other countries are granted a “traffic light” status for arrivals – red, amber or green.

The vast majority of countries, including the US and many European countries including Spain, Italy and Germany, are on the amber list.

Adults who have been fully vaccinated in the UK, and under-18s, no longer have to self-isolate after visiting any amber country apart from France.

But anyone who was fully vaccinated outside the UK still has to quarantine for 10 days on arrival, or pay for the test-to-release scheme to shorten their quarantine.

The travel industry has repeatedly criticized traffic light system for hindering its recovery. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow Airport said the UK was falling behind the EU in opening up to international travelers.

BA chief executive Sean Doyle said the trial provides the evidence that the government needs to allow fully vaccinated visitors from low-risk countries to come to the UK without self-isolating.

“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 program,” he said.