England to reveal plans to scrap isolation for fully vaccinated expats

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says 'we want to be able to open up'

epa08945877 Travellers in the international arrival area of Heathrow Airport near London, Britain, 18 January 2021. Travel corridors in the the UK were closed at 04:00 hours on 18 January 2021 as British government declared. Travellers arriving to England from anywhere outside the UK have to to self-isolate for 10 days and must have proof of a negative coronavirus test. Britain's national health service (NHS) is coming under sever pressure as Covid-19 hospital admissions continue to rise across the UK.  EPA/NEIL HALL

The UK government could scrap mandatory self-isolation for some travellers inoculated with World Health Organisation-recognised vaccines.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Friday he was considering dropping some of the strict isolation requirements for fully vaccinated non-UK residents arriving in the country.

Currently, anyone entering from an amber list country must enter 10-day self-isolation. Those arriving from a red list country must pay to quarantine at government-approved hotels. Green list passengers are not required to isolate regardless of vaccination status.

On Thursday, Mr Shapps announced the biggest overhaul to the travel rules in months, scrapping isolation requirements for fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber list countries. Those changes take effect from July 19.

The scheme was limited in that it only applies to residents who received both injections in the UK, meaning millions of British citizens abroad would still be forced to self-isolate if they return home.

Asked on Friday about the plight of expats, Mr Shapps said he hoped to make an announcement "in the next few weeks". He said: "We want to be able to open that up for people and it's something we're actively working on."

He did not specify if his plans related to only amber list countries, or would go further and include red list destinations.

However, the announcement did not include red list countries, with passengers from those destinations required to enter hotel quarantine even if they have received both shots.

 

Mr Shapps said there were complexities involved in recognising foreign vaccine certificates but he was hopeful they could be overcome soon.

"We’re actively working on this issue of how to accept vaccination from other countries," he told Sky News.

"Obviously we look at whether they are WHO-certified and the like and in terms of a timescale I think in the next couple of weeks I’ll be able to come forward and say more about other locations in the world."

Covid-19 vaccines approved by the WHO include those developed by AstraZeneca-Oxford University, Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinopharm and Sinovac.

The UK government's traffic light system applies to England, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland able to make their own rules.

However, the rules are broadly the same and previous changes to the lists have been adopted by all four nations.

Countries are rated according to the level of coronavirus risk, with factors including testing capacity, variant detection, data quality and level of vaccination all taken into account.

As part of the changes to take place on July 19, the government will remove advice warning people against travelling to amber list countries, effectively turning those destinations green for fully vaccinated passengers.

Passengers will still need to take a coronavirus test two days after arriving in the UK.

Despite concerns that the price of private testing could deter would-be holidaymakers, travel companies reported a surge in bookings shortly after the announcement.

Updated: July 9th 2021, 8:26 AM
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