Amber list rules: will quarantine be scrapped for fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber countries?

Passengers will be required to show proof of Covid vaccination at check-in at the airport and on arrival in the UK

Travellers who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 are set to avoid quarantine rules when returning from amber list countries from as early as 19 July, it has been reported.

Ministers are expected to meet on Thursday (8 July) to sign off a policy which will allow UK holidaymakers to visit destinations on the amber list without having to self-isolate when they get home.

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The pilot scheme will be run on flights operated by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic into Heathrow Airport (Photo: Getty Images)
The pilot scheme will be run on flights operated by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic into Heathrow Airport (Photo: Getty Images)

Almost two thirds of UK adults have now been fully vaccinated and it is expected that children accompanying vaccinated adults will also avoid the need to quarantine.

When could travel rules change?

The Prime Minister is believed to favour introducing the new rules from the so-called “freedom day” in England on 19 July, to coincide with the lifting of other restrictions, The Times reports.

However, concerns still remain over the logistical challenges of the move, which would likely result in long queues at the border as officials carry out additional checks.

The policy is expected to only apply to travellers returning to England initially, opening up travel to a raft of popular holiday spots for the fully vaccinated, including Spain, Greece, Italy and France.

The current advice against travelling to amber list countries for leisure purposes would be dropped.

A Whitehall source told The Times that the policy “will happen before August”, although it has not yet been confirmed if the change will be brought in by 19 July.

Vaccine status checks and fast-track airport lanes

Airlines are due to announce on Wednesday (7 July) that a pilot system for checking passengers’ vaccination status for travel will be introduced this week.

Passengers will be required to show proof of vaccination against Covid-19 at check-in at the airport and again on arrival back into the UK, and will be able to upload their coronavirus vaccination certificate before boarding.

The pilot scheme will be run on flights operated by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic into Heathrow Airport, and is intended to prove how easily vaccination status can be checked without creating huge queues at passport control.

It will initially involve fully vaccinated volunteers travelling on selected flights from Athens, Los Angeles, Montego Bay in Jamaica, and New York.

Heathrow Airport will provide fast-track lanes for fully vaccinated arrivals, with passengers to be directed to the dedicated lanes at the border to speed their passage through immigration.

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow, said: “This pilot will allow us to show that pre-departure and arrival checks of vaccination status can be carried out safely at check-in, so that fully vaccinated passengers can avoid quarantine from July 19.”

The move comes ahead of an expected announcement on Thursday (8 July) when Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will set out details of the government’s plans to end the requirement for travellers from amber list countries to self-isolate on arrival.

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