Travel Restrictions Rules & COVID-19 information: Quarantine-free travel for double-jabbed Britons
- Double-jabbed Britons can enjoy quarantine-free travel to amber travel list countries.
- Surging demand for amber travel list holiday destinations.
- Jet2 says winter holiday bookings are slow due to travel speculation.
- The US will not lift travel restrictions immediately.
- UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak suggests potential changes to the NHS test and trace app to avoid people being told to self-isolate.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will announce today that Britons who have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine can enjoy quarantine-free travel to amber list countries. Mr Shapps is expected to enforce the new travel rules from 19th July 2021, creating extra freedom for UK holidaymakers.
The new travel rules would give double-jabbed Britons access to over 140 countries currently on the amber travel list, including popular UK holiday destinations such as the United States, Mexico and Thailand.
Britons who have not yet received a coronavirus vaccine will still need to quarantine on their return from amber travel list countries or face a GBP 10,000 fine. However, regardless of vaccinations, Mr Shapps stated that all arrivals would be required to take a test on day two of their return.
UK Children who are currently not able to be vaccinated will be exempt from self-isolation when travelling with family.
Countries currently on the UK’s amber travel list require Britons to quarantine for ten days on their return to the UK. Only a small number of countries on the UK’s green travel list currently offer quarantine-free travel.
The news has led to a surge in bookings for summer holidays abroad for the end of July and the beginning of August. Travel comparison site TravelSupermarket revealed that over half of new holiday bookings were for the final week of July and the first week of August, up 10% from two weeks previously.
British Airways also stated that online searches for amber travel list destinations were up 45% compared to the previous week.
Martin Nolan from booking website Skyscanner said it was clear that UK citizens are desperate to resume holidays abroad and is evidenced by the upsurge in holiday bookings.
It’s expected that there will also be a significant rise in last-minute travel bookings, with individuals and families looking to secure the best travel deals.
Paul Charles, CEO of The PC Agency, said that many travel firms were bringing back staff off furlough to help cater to the increasing travel demand.
Jet2 say winter holiday bookings are slow due to travel speculation
Whilst UK holiday bookings are on the rise for summer holidays abroad, airline Jet2 says that winter holiday bookings are slowing down, with many still uncertain about the long-term future of international travel.
Jet2 reported a pre-tax loss of GBP 341 million for the year to the end of March 2021. The significant financial loss compares to a profit of GBP153 million during the previous year as revenues plunged by 89% due to the coronavirus pandemic, which saw 546 members of Jet2 staff made redundant.
The airline reported that all of its aircraft were fully grounded for 29 weeks, only flying a total of 1.32 million passengers, a 91% passenger decline from the 2019/20 financial year.
Jet2 Executive chairman Philip Meeson has been critical of the UK government’s travel task force, stating that their guidance has confused customers rather than providing clarity. Mr Meeson said there was limited visibility for the second half of 2021, creating cautiousness amongst potential travellers in the UK.
Although Jet2 has seen some interest in winter bookings, Mr Meeson said that demand has significantly slowed down due to the ongoing speculation surrounding travel abroad. However, the airline is seeing substantial demand for summer 2022 and is confident that next year will be a considerable improvement for the travel industry due to coronavirus vaccines.
As more people in the UK become vaccinated, it’s hoped that more countries will be added to the green travel list, allowing even further travel freedom. Very few countries are currently on the UK’s green travel list but include destinations such as Madeira, Malta and Barbados.
Many green travel list countries are also on a watchlist, meaning that the countries could quickly revert to the amber list during the following travel review. It’s thought that the Balearic Islands will likely be placed back on the amber travel list, having seen a recent rapid rise in coronavirus infections.
The US will not lift travel restrictions immediately
Whilst UK travel abroad is making promising steps forward, reports indicate that US President Joe Biden will not lift US travel restrictions immediately. The Whitehouse is facing mounting pressures from US businesses and lawmakers to resume travel but appears to be taking a cautious approach.
The Biden Administration held discussions with the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom, Canada, and Mexico last month to decide the best way to resume travel abroad. The Whitehouse stated that whilst the Biden Administration had met with each country several times, there were still further steps before making a final decision.
The Whitehouse acknowledged that the US had seen significant progress with its coronavirus vaccination efforts but aimed only to reopen travel abroad when it’s safe to do so.
That being said, President Biden recently stated that the US could not live in a bubble and recognised the need to reopen travel as soon as safely possible.
Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, said that a vaccine passport system could be the safest way to resume international travel. However, if individuals were not vaccinated, Mr Gostin suggested that negative COVID tests would need to be presented prior to travel.
Rishi Sunak suggests potential changes to the NHS test and trace app
There has been great speculation over the future of the NHS test and trace app, following UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that Britons no longer need to scan a QR code to enter hospitality venues.
Some questioned whether the NHS app would be scrapped altogether, whilst some Health advisors stated the app’s benefits and urged for it to be kept in place.
A key complaint over past weeks is that the NHS app has notified increasing numbers of people to self-isolate, having come in close contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19. The notifications have frustrated employers across the nation, having to send members of staff home.
However, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, stated today that there could be changes to how the NHS app operates going forward following self-isolation complaints.
The UK Department for Health is currently looking at altering the sensitivity of the NHS app. The change would involve amending settings to exclude individuals whose exposure to a COVID-positive person has been more limited from getting an isolation alert.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was this week notified that potentially millions of people have been deleting the NHS app to avoid the self-isolation notifications.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid stated that new coronavirus infections could surge to 100,000 a day once COVID restrictions are fully lifted on 19th July 2021. As a result, the likelihood of being ‘pinged’ via the NHS app will significantly increase.
However, changes to self-isolation rules will not change until four weeks after July’s Freedom Day on 16th August 2021. The new self-isolation rules mean that fully vaccinated adults who come in close contact with a COVID-positive individual will not have to self-isolate but instead take a COVID test.
As a result, UK politicians have asked Mr Johnson to bring the date forward for the new self-isolation rules to avoid double vaccinated people from missing out on holidays and events.
Despite reports of users deleting the NHS app, Christophe Fraser from Oxford University says that the app use is at an all-time high. Mr Fraser noted that 50% of all UK COVID test results go through the NHS app.