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COVID-19: Amber List Quarantine Rule Will Be Dropped for Double-Jabbed on July 19th 2021

Even before setting foot on an aeroplane this year, British travellers and holidaymakers have experienced extreme turbulence. One minute their hopes of a holiday abroad are raised, and the next, this has been dashed. The latest announcement from the Department for Transport today will hopefully give would-be tourists desperate to get away from the less than stellar summer weather a renewed sense of jubilation. In this article, we will explain the Government’s latest announcement on the ending of quarantine rules for British travellers who have received both vaccinations.

What Has The Government Announced?

On July 8th 2021, Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced that holidaymakers from England who wish to travel to an amber list country will not need to quarantine on their return home if they have had both COVID-19 vaccines. This new rule will come into place on July 19th 2021, on the same day the Government is expected to drop many of the current COVID-19 control measures. This change will result in many countries which are currently listed as amber, becoming viable options for English tourists. The current amber list contains over 140 countries, including many tourist favourites such as Spain, France, Germany, Cyprus, and Portugal.

Announcing the change of policy, Transport Minister Grant Shapps confirmed that travellers would be able to “visit their family and friends who they’ve not seen for such a long time”. Shapps went on to say, “I don’t underestimate for a second just how difficult the last 16 months have been for those who have not been able to travel to see their families, and the tourism and for the aviation sector itself, of course, and no minister, let alone transport secretary, would want to ever curtail freedom and ask people not to travel”. “Protecting public health has rightly been and will continue to be our overriding priority of this Government, and that’s why we introduced some of the toughest border measures in the world. But we are now, thanks to our brilliant vaccination programme, in a position where we can start to think about how we live with coronavirus while returning life to a sense of normality”.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid also stated, “Vaccinations have severely weakened the link between COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths, building a wall of protection across the country. As we learn to live with this virus, due to the tremendous progress of the vaccine programme – with more than 3 in 5 people now double jabbed – we can safely take steps to ease restrictions on travel, as we are doing at home. Allowing quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated people means they can be reunited with loved ones overseas, and we can return to normality as quickly as possible”.

It is important to note that the Government will only accept that a person is fully vaccinated if 14 days have passed since the second vaccine was administered. This, therefore, allows for sufficient immunity to build up during that time.

How Will Travellers Prove They Have Been Fully Vaccinated?

It was also confirmed that proof in the form of the NHS app or a certificate would be required. The concern is that many British citizens who live outside of the UK who have received their vaccinations abroad will not be able to provide the requisite proof of vaccination. Some reports suggest that the initial lifting of quarantine restrictions is just the first phase and that future phases would enable the recognition of foreign vaccinations certificates.

Will Pre-Departure And PCR Tests Still Be Required By Travellers To Amber-Listed Countries?

Yes, under the new rules, adult travellers and children aged between 10 and 18 will still be required to have a pre-departure COVID-19 test and a PCR test on the second day after their return to the UK. Under the new rules, children under four will be exempt from all testing. Children between five and ten will only need to have a PCR test on day two of their return to the UK.

Another consideration is that while the Government may not require quarantine of return for those who have been double-jabbed, this does not mean that amber-listed countries will not continue to impose limits, restrictions, and rules for tourists from the UK, even if they do offer quarantine-free travel. For this reason, it is important to check the rules which apply to the country you are travelling to. For example, the current entry requirement rules for Spain state that travellers need to present one of the following on arrival:

  • documentation issued within 48 hours prior to arrival in Spain, certifying that you have undertaken a COVID-19 test, e.g. PCR, TMA, LAMP or NEAR, and tested negative. Antigen tests are not currently accepted for the majority of travellers
  • proof of being fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to arrival in Spain (date(s) of vaccination must be specified), with a vaccine authorised by the European Medicines Agency or by the World Health Organisation – to prove that you have been vaccinated, for English travellers, Spain will accept the NHS COVID Pass or your NHS letter to demonstrate your COVID-19 vaccination status.

Final Words

Understandably, these new rules which will enable the return of some international travel have been received with some relief by those in the travel industry. Tim Alderslade, CEO for Airlines UK, states, “This is a positive move towards the genuine reopening the sector has been looking for….The summer season essentially starts here”. We can only hope that no U-turn is required on this change of travel policy, but given the uncertainty surrounding the spread of COVID-19, this cannot be ruled out. We will keep you updated with future developments as they occur.

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