England to make vaccine passports available through NHS app
- Brits to find out which holiday destinations make the travel green list in two weeks
- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said vaccine passports would be made available via an NHS app
- A quarter of all UK adults have received their first COVID jab
- Greece will accept handwritten NHS vaccination cards from British tourists
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Britons would find out which holiday destinations will make the UK’s travel “green list” within the next couple of weeks.
Mr Shapps also stated that the UK government would be introducing coronavirus vaccine passports, which will be made available through an NHS app to facilitate holidays abroad.
His statement comes ahead of plans to implement a traffic light system for international travel this summer, determining whether a country is safe based on its infection rate, vaccine success, and the healthcare system.
Holiday destinations deemed low risk will feature on the UK’s “green list”, meaning Brits returning to the UK from these countries will not be required to quarantine.
Those arriving from “amber” destinations will be required to self-isolate at home for ten days upon return and submit two PCR tests on day two and eight of their isolation.
Anyone returning from red list destinations will be forced to quarantine in government-designated hotels for ten days at the cost of GBP 1,750 per person.
Under UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown exit roadmap, international travel will restart on May 17th. With less than 20 days to go before further lockdown restrictions are lifted, holidaymakers and travel firms have urged the government to provide some certainty.
In an interview with Sky News on Wednesday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said “there isn’t much longer to wait” and that no matter which destination Brits travel to, they will have to “produce a negative COVID test upon their return and before their departure.”
He also confirmed that trips abroad would be facilitated with a new NHS app, allowing border authorities to verify whether Britons have been administered a COVID jab and tested negative for the virus.
England will introduce coronavirus passports via the NHS app
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News that the UK government is working with its international partners to implement a globally recognised system to allow Brits travelling abroad to demonstrate whether they’ve been vaccinated or tested.
Mr Shapps informed Sky News that he would be “chairing a meeting of the G7 secretaries of state for transport, my equivalents, from America and Canada and all the other G7 countries on the subject next week.”
He also said that while he is awaiting data from the government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre to determine the classification of countries under the new traffic light system, the statistics he had seen so far look promising – to the delight of the travel industry.
Grant Shapps’ remarks precede positive messages from Spain, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus’ tourism ministers, all of which hope to welcome Brits back by June.
However, Mr Shapps warned that the UK government would be taking an extremely cautious approach since coronavirus cases in Europe remain stubbornly high. The uptick in the infection rate across Asia and the Middle East has also become a cause for concern.
The new double mutation in India, which has sadly killed thousands across the country, has already been detected in seventeen other countries, including the UK, Italy, USA and Singapore, reports the World Health Organisation (WHO).
With fears over a COVID tsunami heightening, Mr Shapps said that to ensure this lockdown is the last, “we need to make sure we do this very, very carefully – we don’t want to throw away our remarkable rollout in this country of the vaccination campaign.”
Hence the reason why even Brits arriving in “green list” countries will be required to provide a negative COVID test upon their return.
While this means holidaymakers will need to factor in additional costs, Mr Shapps believes that as people are used to testing, the requirement shouldn’t be an issue for those keen to holiday abroad.
So, while it’s too early to say that summer will be business as usual, the latest development certainly offers a glimmer of hope.
Greece has boosted confidence further after confirming that it would accept handwritten NHS vaccination certificates until Britain’s digital coronavirus passport is ready.
Greece accepting handwritten NHS vaccination cards
Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said that Brits arriving into Greece with handwritten NHS vaccination cards would be permitted entry this summer.
Greece, which relies on tourism to boost economic growth, hopes that this will encourage Brits to choose the country as their go-to holiday destination when international travel resumes.
Harry Theoharis said Greece had seen the NHS vaccination cards, which provide proof of two vaccine appointment dates and are more than happy to recognise this as confirmation of inoculation.
Although other countries such as Portugal are less keen on the method, it means that Brits could potentially avoid the need to take expensive PCR tests to enter the Balkan holiday hotspot.
Those who have not yet been vaccinated will also be welcomed into Greece, providing a negative COVID test presented to border authorities.
According to reports, Greece is also considering implementing the cheaper, rapid antigen tests into its testing system to facilitate international travel.
The news comes in tandem with data showing that a quarter of the UK’s adult population is now fully vaccinated.
A quarter of UK adults have received both COVID jabs
According to the latest GOV.uk data, a quarter of all UK adults have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, thanks to the record number of second doses administered last week.
A total of 13,581,076 have received both their COVID-19 jabs, equivalent to 25.1% of the population – a significant milestone in Britain’s vaccination campaign.
By nation, Wales leads the race to herd immunity, with 27.8% of adults protected against severe illness or death, followed by England with 24.9%, Scotland at 24.9% and Northern Ireland with 24.5%.
Overall, Britain has delivered 47,540,984 jabs into the arms of those living in the UK, and recent success has enabled ministers to lower the age bracket for the second time this week.
Over-42s or those turning 42-years-old before July 1st can now arrange and book their vaccine appointments.
NHS Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis celebrated the UK’s vaccine success and praised the hard work of doctors, nurses, volunteers and other people involved in the rollout for making it all possible.
Prof Powis said, “Britain’s rapid vaccine rollout has not happened by accident – it is due to the careful planning and tireless work of key workers why it has become the swiftest in Europe.”
Once all the over-40s receive their first COVID jabs, over-30s will be invited into surgeries and vaccination centres for their coronavirus shots.
Given this week’s success, the likelihood of this happening in England is very soon. Northern Ireland is already asking those aged 35 and over to book coronavirus vaccine appointments at participating pharmacies and vaccination centres.
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