Covid: Amber list quarantine scrapped from July 19 for double-jabbed people

ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports on the latest "jab and go" travel policy


People who have had both doses of the coronavirus vaccine and children under the age of 18 will be able to enjoy quarantine-free travel to amber list destinations from July 19, the transport secretary has announced.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Grant Shapps said: "Residents who are fully vaccinated through the UK vaccine rollout will no longer have to self-isolate when they return to England.

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


Watch the Transport Secretary announce the new measures in the House of Commons


From July 19, the guidance that people should not travel to countries on the amber list will also be removed, allowing people to travel for leisure, business and to see family.

But Mr Shapps warned, “an amber list country could still turn red”, meaning hotel quarantine would become a requirement.

A fully vaccinated traveller, the transport secretary said, is someone who is 14 days past their final dose of the vaccine and had their vaccine through the NHS.

The requirement means that British people living abroad, who have not had their vaccine in the UK, will still have to quarantine when arriving in the UK from an amber list destination.

Mr Shapps said that, as health matters are devolved, the implementation of the policy may "differ across UK administrations".

People returning from holidays from amber destinations, such as France, Spain, and Portugal, will still be required to take a Covid-19 test three days before returning.

They will also have to take a test on or before the second day of their return, but will be exempt from the day eight test.



Children under-18, who have not been offered the vaccine, will also be exempt from quarantine and will not have to take a test on the eighth day after their return.

The transport secretary said: "Children between the ages of five and 10 will only have to take a day two test and as before children four and under will be exempt from all testing and isolation requirements."

Labour's Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon raised concerns about “limited” published data.

He said: “The debate last time focused on India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, yet none of those countries have had the data published, nor have the countries which are critical to our economy, including the US, Canada and the vast majority of the EU.

“When the full data is published will he ensure that it shows a very clear direction of travel for each and every country to instil confidence once more and will he finally allow a full review of the delay in adding India to the red list?

“In just a week the government has effectively taken our suggestion to effectively scrap the confused amber list, but it isn’t clear if some of the countries that are currently on the amber list should in fact be moved to the red list.”


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He also raised the cost of testing, a sector deal and Labour’s call for the introduction of an international vaccine passport.

The move will come as a huge boost to the travel industry which had been pressing for restrictions to be eased from July 19 when lockdown controls are due to be lifted in England.

The decision to ease the quarantine requirements for amber list countries potentially opens key tourist destinations such as France, Greece, Italy and mainland Spain to British holidaymakers – although some may impose restrictions on visitors from the UK.

There has been frustration in the travel industry – which has been heavily hit by the pandemic – that the government has not moved more swiftly to ease controls in the wake of the vaccine rollout.

However in an exclusive poll for ITV News by data analytics specialists Kantar, people were less optimistic about the news.

The exclusive ITV News poll revealed:

  • 75% have given up on going on holiday abroad in Summer 2021

  • Of those who have given up on going on holiday abroad this Summer, 31% said the main factor in this was their risk of contracting Covid-19 while they were away.

  • 65% said removing the need to quarantine for passengers returning from amber countries would not change their minds about a foreign holiday this Summer.

  • 60% of those who have given up on going on holiday abroad this Summer have not booked for Winter 2021 or next Summer either.

Green list travel: What you need to know

What are the latest countries added to the UK's green list?

Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Croatia and Taiwan are the latest countries to be added, as of 4am on 19 June.

What does it mean when a country is on the green list?

People who are travelling to countries on the green list will still need to take a Covid test up to 72 hours before they return to the UK and a single PCR test on or before day two of their arrival into the UK - but you do not need to quarantine unless the test result is positive.

Children aged four and under are exempt from the test.

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Do I need to quarantine or take a test on arrival to Bulgaria, Croatia, Malta or Madeira?

Bulgaria

Bulgaria has a similar green, amber and red travel system to that of the UK.

The UK is currently amber on Bulgaria's list.

This means if you are entering Bulgaria from the UK you must present one of three documents.

First, a vaccination certificate indicating an approved vaccine schedule has been completed at least 14 days before arrival.

Second, a document showing a positive result from a PCR or rapid antigen test for people who have recovered from Covid-19.

Third, a negative PCR test performed within 72 hours before entry into Bulgaria or a rapid antigen test performed up to 48 hours before entry.Additionally, at least 5% of all arrivals from amber countries will be subject to a rapid antigen test at random.

Croatia

To avoid quarantine in Croatia you must present a negative Covid-19 antigen or PCR test, or proof of vaccination, or a doctor’s certificate of recovery following a positive test result between 11 and 180 days prior.

To enter via proof of vaccination you must have had either a two-dose vaccine course from Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Gamaleya or Sinopharm or a certificate of receipt of a one-dose vaccine such as the Johnson & Johnson jab.

Croatia will accept the NHS Covid pass both as a letter or via the app.Children under 12 are exempt from the requirements.

If you have not got any of the accepted ways of gaining entry, a test can be taken upon arrival in Croatia but you will have to self-isolate until you have the result.

Malta

No - the only reason you would need to quarantine in Malta is if you do not have proof of a negative Covid test result.

The UK is on Malta's amber list, which means passengers (everyone aged 5 and above) arriving in the country will need to submit a negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate before boarding flights to Malta. You will also need to show the physical copy of a negative Covid test when you land in Malta. The swab test will need to be carried out up to 72 hours (maximum) prior to arrival in Malta. If a negative PCR test is not presented, a swab test on arrival or a 14-day quarantine period is mandatory on arrival. All passengers must complete a Public Health Travel Declaration Form and Passenger Locator Form. You must show both forms to airline officials when leaving the UK and health officials when you arrive in Malta.Everyone arriving (and departing) from Malta has their temperature checked. If you have a high temperature, you will need to take a swab test. Madeira

To enter Madeira, you must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test or have had both doses of the Covid vaccine at least 15 days prior to travel.

Passengers must take a PCR test 72 hours before travel and upload the test result - children aged 12 and under are exempt. If you have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine, you will be exempt from showing a PCR test on entry and Madeira will accept your NHS letter to demonstrate your vaccination status.

All passengers (except for children aged 12 and under) will need to complete and submit a traveller questionnaire.

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What other countries are already on the green list?

The addition of Malta, Balearic Islands and Madeira will be a welcome addition for travellers returning to the UK, as the majority of countries previously on the green list are closed to international tourists, such as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Here are the green list countries:

  • Australia

  • Brunei

  • Caribbean Islands (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, Barbados, Dominicana, Granada, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands)

  • Falkland Islands

  • Faroe Islands

  • Gibraltar

  • Iceland

  • Israel and Jerusalem

  • Malta

  • Madeira

  • New Zealand

  • Singapore

  • South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands

  • St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

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In response to the foreign travel announcement, Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said: "This is a positive move towards the genuine reopening the sector has been looking for.

"Opening up the market for the rest of the summer, this announcement will provide far greater opportunities to travel, do business and see family and friends, and enable many more of our customers to book with certainty.

"The summer season essentially starts here."

British Airways Chief Executive Sean Doyle said: "We’re pleased to see this common sense approach which is already working safely for many other countries, but there is more work to do.

"While the quarantine requirement for amber countries is being lifted for fully vaccinated UK travellers, the government needs to quickly extend this to all vaccinated travellers, agree a reciprocal deal with the US, add more countries to the green list and reduce the need for unnecessary, expensive tests.

"This will allow the UK to catch up with other countries and send a message that global Britain is now, finally, open again."

Mr Shapps said the changes announced on Thursday would “prioritise those vaccinated in the United Kingdom”, adding: “We want to welcome international visitors back to the UK and are working to extend our approach to vaccinated passengers from important markets and holiday destinations later this summer, such as the United States and the EU.”

Mr Shapps said he would update MPs in “due course” about this.