Covid-19: Amber list quarantine for fully vaccinated to end on 19 July

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

media captionGrant Shapps announces changes to quarantine rules for the fully vaccinated in England

Fully vaccinated UK residents arriving in England from amber travel list destinations will no longer have to quarantine from 19 July.

They will, however, still need to pay for PCR tests before and after their return, the transport secretary said.

Grant Shapps told MPs that under-18s returning from amber list places would also be exempt from quarantine.

Travel industry leaders said the change was a "positive step" but called for the amber list to be expanded.

Currently, anyone returning from amber or red list countries must isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccine status.

"To be clear, a full vaccination means 14 days have passed since your final dose of the vaccine," Mr Shapps said.

He added: "In essence, this means that for fully vaccinated travellers the requirements for green and amber list countries are the same."

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The transport secretary went on to say that, from 19 July – which is also the day when most Covid rules in England are due to end – the guidance that people should not travel to amber list countries will be removed.

But he cautioned "an amber list country could still turn red", meaning hotel quarantine would become a requirement.

All of England's 19 July rule changes are due to be confirmed on 12 July after a review of the latest data.

image copyrightReutersimage captionHeathrow Airport welcomed the news, but called for the rules to be eased even further

The UK government's traffic light system for travel 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.

Fewer than 30 destinations are on the green list – meaning travellers do not have to self-isolate when they get back to the UK but they do have to pay for Covid tests.

More than 50 countries are on the strictest red list, which requires arrivals to pay to self-isolate in a hotel for 10 days.

But most places – including several holiday hotspots such as mainland Spain, Greece and the US – are on the amber list, which – at present – requires people to quarantine for 10 days and pay for tests.

'A positive move'

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said the rule change was a "positive move towards the genuine reopening the sector has been looking for".

And John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow, said the change was "excellent news that will give a much-needed boost to millions of people across Britain looking forward to a more normal summer".

"But the job isn't done," he said, adding: "The UK should open up travel to fully vaccinated people from more countries – particularly our key partners in the US – by the end of July."

However, MP Caroline Lucas – chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, said the government was "in danger of repeating the same mistakes that allowed the Delta variant to take root in the UK".

"Dropping quarantine without… additional protections in place risks leaving the country dangerously exposed to new variants that could undo our hard-won progress against the virus," she said.

What are the current requirements for entering other countries?

The traffic light system sets the rules travellers must follow on their return. But holidaymakers also need to check their destination's entry rules.

For example, all non-vaccinated travellers to mainland Portugal need a negative Covid test, and must quarantine for 14 days. Twelve to 17-year-olds travelling with fully-vaccinated parents don't have to quarantine but need a negative test. Under-11s are exempt.

Only fully-vaccinated adults can travel to Malta, and don't need a negative test. Children aged 5-11 can travel with fully-vaccinated adults, but need a negative test. Under-5s don't need a test. Unvaccinated 12 to 17-year olds can't enter.

Over-12s travelling to Spain need a negative test or proof of vaccination.

Unvaccinated travellers can only enter France for "essential reasons", and must self-isolate for seven days. Fully-vaccinated adults with a negative test can enter. Under-18s travelling with fully-vaccinated adults don't need to self-isolate.

Earlier, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the BBC that in addition to relaxing the rules around isolation for travellers, the government was considering a "more proportionate and balanced approach" to isolation for Covid contacts.

It comes amid fears that surging cases across the UK will lead to millions of people being asked to self-isolate during the summer, even if they have been fully vaccinated.

"I recognise people's frustrations with this. I have spoken to the health secretary and he's also aware of this," Mr Sunak told BBC Breakfast.

"He's looking at the difference between the two systems [contact tracers and the NHS app] and seeing what might be a more proportionate and balanced approach to this."

The prime minister said he understood frustrations about self-isolating after contact with a positive case, but added that 16 August – when double-jabbed people will no longer need to isolate – is "not too far off".

"What we want to do is just keep going for a little bit longer so that we can get even more vaccinations into people's arms, give ourselves even more protection," Boris Johnson said.

More than 32,000 new coronavirus cases were announced on Wednesday, as well as 33 more deaths.

Nearly two-thirds of the adult population in the UK have received two jabs, and 86% have had a first dose.

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