Fully vacinated EU and US citizens will be allowed to enter England without having to quarantine from Aug 2, ministers have decided.
On Wednesday, the Cabinet’s Covid-O committee agreed to open the borders to double jabbed citizens from the US and EU countries, most of which are on the amber list, from next month.
The move follows warnings that the UK risked falling behind the EU, which has already largely opened up to citizens from the US and other countries.
Research from the World Travel and Tourism Council suggests the economy is losing £639 million a day because of the squeeze on inbound tourism.
The current exemptions from quarantine for double jabbed travellers from amber list countries currently only cover Britons who have been vaccinated by the NHS.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has also announced that international cruises will restart, although travellers have to abide by the rules of the traffic light system for any amber or green country they visit
We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK 👪
From 2nd August at 4am people from these countries will be able to come to the England from an amber country without having to quarantine if they’re fully vaxxed 💉
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) July 28, 2021
In a statement, Grant Shapps added: "We’ve taken great strides on our journey to reopen international travel and today is another important step forward.
"Whether you are a family reuniting for the first time since the start of the pandemic or a business benefiting from increased trade – this is progress we can all enjoy.
"We will of course continue to be guided by the latest scientific data but thanks to our world-leading domestic vaccination programme, we’re able to look to the future and start to rebuild key transatlantic routes with the US while further cementing ties with our European neighbours."
The extension of the exemption to US and EU citizens means they will no longer have to self-isolate but, like returning Britons, will still have to pay for PCR tests on or before day two of their arrival in the UK.
Expats who are double jabbed will also be entitled to the same exemption from Aug 1. Countries beyond the EU and US could be allowed quarantine-free inbound travel at a later date.
Since July 19, fully vaccinated UK residents have been allowed travel to and from countries on the Government’s amber list without quarantining on their return. However, the right was denied to those who were inoculated outside the UK.
Travel countries on the red, green and amber list
Under the new plans, the Government will recognise vaccine credentials issued specifically in the EU and US for the first time, including the EU’s digital Covid certificate. It will initially apply only on entry to England, but the devolved administrations are likely to follow.
It follows a trial by Heathrow, British Airways and Virgin which found the practical difficulties of verifying vaccination status were overcome in 99 per cent of cases, amid concerns over the complexities of different US states paper and digital certificates. The results have been submitted to the Government.
John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive, said: "The vaccine has been a miracle of science, and these trials have shown that we can allow fully vaccinated passengers from the EU and US to visit the UK without quarantine. There is now no reason to delay with rolling out the solution from July 31."
Sir John Bell, Regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, said people who were double vaccinated were protected, adding: "It is as simple as that, and we should be pushing open the door much more widely."