Will PM plans for double-jabbed Brits lead to bookings bonanza?

By Linsey McNeill
06/07/2021
Home » Will PM plans for double-jabbed Brits lead to bookings bonanza?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed plans to allow fully vaccinated people to travel to amber countries without the need to self-isolate when they return to the UK.

Lifting the quarantine restriction could reopen travel to several popular holiday destinations, including the Canaries, some Greek islands and Portugal just in time for the school summer holidays.

Speaking at yesterday’s Downing Street briefing, Mr Johnson said the UK would ‘maintain our tough border controls, including the red list’.

But he added: “Recognising the protection afforded by both doses of the vaccine we will work with the travel industry towards removing the need for fully vaccinated arrivals to isolate on return from an amber country.”

He said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will provide a further update ‘later this week’.

At the moment, all arrivals from amber destinations must self-isolate at home for up to 10 days, with the option to end the quarantine after five days with a negative PCR test.

Removing the self-isolation requirement would open up travel to a number of amber holiday destinations, although many – including mainland Spain, most of Greece, Cyprus and hotspots like Croatia are also subject to a Foreign Office (FCDO) warning not to travel.

Unless the FCDO advice also changes, it’s likely people will still be put off travelling to those countries, especially as they will need specialist travel insurance, which is generally more expensive and doesn’t usually provide COVID cover for the over 59s.

Those amber destinations with no FCDO warning in place include several Greek islands, the Canaries and Portugal, plus several long-haul destinations such as Cuba and Saint Lucia.

However, most have travel restrictions in place for British holidaymakers – and these could get tighter as coronavirus cases continue to rocket in the UK. Portugal, for instance, now requires British adults to be double-vaccinated and take a COVID test.

Holidaymakers might also be concerned that amber destinations will turn red during their trip, which would require them to quarantine in a hotel when they return home.

However, removing the self-isolation requirement will also eliminate some of the stress of travelling to a destination on the green watchlist, which could turn amber with little or no notice.

Will double-vaccinated Brits still need to pay for COVID tests?

The PM didn’t give any further details about the Government’s plan to end self-isolation for fully-vaccinated Brits, saying only that Grant Shapps would reveal more later this week.

At the moment, those returning from amber countries must pay for three private tests: one before they return home and two more once they arrive back in the UK. They also have the option to pay for another to end their quarantine early.

With the multiple tests costing several hundred pounds per person, this is likely to continue to dampen demand for travel to amber countries unless the Government reduces or removes the testing requirement.

When will the changes take effect?

The PM did not say what date the quarantine requirement will be lifted for double-vaccinated arrivals. Neither did he say whether unvaccinated children travelling with vaccinated parents will still need to self-isolate, but good news for young adults is that all over 18s should be fully vaccinated by mid-September.

The PM said the gap between the first and second doses was being reduced from 12 to eight weeks. However, the majority of younger adults are unlikely to be fully vaccinated in time for the peak summer period.

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