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 and amber list travel: What you need to know

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

It's important to note that just because a country is on the UK's green list, it doesn't necessarily mean the country is accepting UK citizens - Australia being one example - so check with the relevant country's government website for their latest rules on tourist arrivals.

People who are travelling to countries on the green list will 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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What countries are on the green list?

From 4am on Monday 30 August, the Azores, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania and Switzerland will be added to the green list. These are the other countries already on the list:

  • Australia

  • Austria

  • Brunei

  • Bulgaria,

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

  • Croatia

  • Falkland Islands

  • Faroe Islands

  • Germany

  • Gibraltar

  • Hong Kong

  • Iceland

  • Israel and Jerusalem

  • Latvia

  • Malta

  • Madeira

  • New Zealand

  • Norway

  • Romania

  • Singapore

  • Slovakia

  • Slovenia

  • South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands

  • St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

  • Taiwan

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What countries are on the amber list?

No countries are being added to the amber list as part of the traffic light list changes coming into effect on Monday 30 August.There are currently more than 130 other countries on the amber list, including popular holiday destinations such as Spain, Portugal and Italy. The full list of amber list countries can be found on the UK government website.

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

If you're over 18 and not had two Covid vaccinations, on arrival in the UK from amber list countries you need to:

  • take a Covid test up to 72 hours before you return to the UK

  • quarantine for 10 days

  • take a test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 after arriving in the UK.

However, if you've been fully vaccinated in the UK or under 18, you don't need to quarantine or take a day 8 test after you get back, but you still need to take a test on or before day 2 after arriving. You must have had your final dose of the vaccine at least 14 whole days before the date you arrive in England to be considered as fully vaccinated under the amber list rules.

Separate to these rules for UK citizens, since 2 August people fully vaccinated in the USA or most European countries will not need to quarantine if they have been in an amber list country in the 10 days before arriving. They will still need to take a test on or before day 2 after arriving.

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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.