PM set to drop restrictions for fully jabbed Britons and allow US and EU tourists into England
England's remaining coronavirus rules are set for some major changes, with quarantine requirements for double-jabbed US and EU arrivals expected to be lifted, according to reports.
And Boris Johnson has reportedly agreed from August 16 fully-vaccinated Britons will no longer be required to test for Covid-19, even if they've been in contact with the virus, unless they have symptoms.
Changes to England's border policies are expected to be announced on Wednesday following a meeting of senior ministers at a Covid-O committee, with the restrictions likely to be lifted as soon as next week.
Double-jabbed travellers from countries outside the EU and US could be allowed to enter England without quarantine at a later date, The Times reported.
Border rules will only be relaxed in England initially but the devolved nations are expected to follow, says the newspaper.
Travel to the UK was previously only possible without quarantine from a handful of countries from the green list.
While the changes would be a major boost to the aviation and tourism sectors - which have been severely restricted during the pandemic - the benefit to potential holidaymakers in England may be negligible due to restrictions in destination countries.
The United States, for example, has already announced that most European travellers, including those from the UK, will remained banned from entering the US due to coronavirus fears.
The White House said it would “maintain existing travel restrictions” due to the increasing spread of the virus and rising case rates across the continent.
Britons who live in the EU or US could benefit from the quarantine relaxations when entering England but they would have to quarantine when returning to America and a number of European countries.
Labour labelled the plans to relax border restrictions as "reckless".
Deputy leader Angela Rayner said: "I am very concerned about the government's strategy here - of course people want to go on holiday, of course we want international business to continue but if we don't do that in a safe way we will actually go backwards."
She added: "This is reckless from the government, they promised an international vaccine passport, we haven't seen that materialise.
"The government in their reckless handling of the borders recently meant that we had a Delta variant that rose infections across the UK which damaged the economy."
Ms Rayner urged the government to "follow the data" but aviation firms which carried out trials with vaccinated tourists claim the pilots show travel happen safely.
Heathrow Airport, Virgin and BA said their 10-day pilot scheme proved the vaccination status of travellers can be efficiently and accurately checked away from the border.
Around 250 fully vaccinated passengers on selected flights from New York, Los Angeles, Jamaica and Athens earlier this month presented their credentials using paper or digital formats before boarding the plane.
Some 99% of their documents were verified as authentic, with just two passengers’ credentials rejected.
In one case there was a discrepancy between the name on the vaccine card and the name on the passport, while another involved someone who had been fully vaccinated less than 14 days before travel.
The Covid-O committee will consider data from these trials when deciding whether to lift any restrictions.
Covid-O stands for Covid-19 operations, a committee chaired by Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove, which is designed to take swift decisions on the handling of the pandemic.
An announcement the traffic light system is also expected "shortly", according to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
Asked whether restrictions would soon be lifted on returnees from France and Spain, he said: "Well we keep all of the data for all of those countries under constant review."
He added: "We'll only open up further when we can do so safely and securely - the decisions on the next review point for the traffic light system for international travel will be made shortly."
The prime minister stopped short of confirming plans to increase travel with the use of vaccine passports when speaking on Wednesday morning but he did say hopeful holiday makers will benefit from being vaccinated.
"I think it’s a very positive thing to do to go and get a vaccine," he told LBC.
"People can obviously see, when you look at things like travel, like mass events, that it’s going to be one of those things that will help you, not hinder you."
The government is also expected to announce that from August 16 those who are fully vaccinated will not be required to take a test if they have come into contact with someone with coronavirus, unless they have symptoms.
It comes after the number of new daily Covid-19 infections had fallen for the seventh day in row, but new deaths on Tuesday were the highest since mid-March.
A total of 23,511 new positive tests were reported in the UK in the last 24 hours to 9am, close to half of the figure last Tuesday - 46,558.
Deaths, however, were the highest since March 12, with 131 Covid-related fatalities recorded.
Listen to the Coronavirus: What You Need To Know podcast: