BRITS will find out crucial updates to the green and amber travel lists on THURSDAY – and quarantine-free holidays to Spain, Greece and Italy could be back on.
Pressure is mounting on the government to ease strict Covid travel curbs as soon as possible and give a huge boost to hopes for much-needed summer breaks in the sun.
Ministers will meet within 48 hours to consider whether quarantine rules for double-jabbed holidaymakers heading to amber nations should be ditched.
And that would open up unrestricted holidays to countries currently on the medium-risk list – like Spain, France, Italy Greece and the US.
Some senior ministers are even pushing for holiday restrictions to be eased at the same time other curbs are lifted in the UK – on July 19.
At the moment only people going to green list countries are automatically free once they return home – although they do have to take at least two expensive PCR tests.
Anyone coming back from an amber list country has to quarantine for ten days at home.
But a new system to allow adults who have had two doses to travel to and from such countries without quarantining is set to be announced within days.
And unjabbed family members aged under 18 will be able to fly too as they have not been offered the vaccine.
It comes as:
- Boris Johnson is set to announce on Monday whether lockdown can lift two weeks early – but it’s unlikely he will go ahead with it
- Matt Hancock refused to rule out further lockdown rules in winter – but said Freedom Day was on track as planned
- He pointed out that hospitalisations were “barely rising” and deaths stayed “very low”
- If amber list countries were opened up, it could put holidays in Croatia, Cyrpus, Greece, Italy, France and Spain back on the cards in the coming months
Ministers will also decide if any new countries should be added to the short list of destinations where unrestricted holidays are currently allowed.
And it’s been reported scientists have already told ministers that the Balearic Islands are now safe to be moved onto the green list.
That would guarantee quarantine-free breaks to Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca and Formentera will be back on.
Malta is also being tipped to be given key green status, reports the Mail.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the changes will not be ready until later this summer, with Downing Street eying August at the earliest.
However last night a key ally of Chancellor Rishi Sunak broke cover to call for the border freedom boost to kick in on July 19.
Tory MP James Cartlidge, the Chancellor’s right hand man and aide in Parliament, wrote to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to demand double jabbed Brits be given freedom next month.
He said: “The proposal to restart international travel by allowing fully vaccinated people to go on holiday would be an absolute lifeline for this industry.”
He added: “I believe that allowing fully vaccinated people to travel is reasonable, and an important step we can take to support our fantastic travel business.”
Last night No11 sources said Mr Sunak was supportive of the calls but did not put his pal up to writing the letter.
The development came as airlines, travel operators and holidaymakers backed the pleas to save our summer hols by reopening borders to the jabbed up Brits next month.
Trade body Airlines UK which represents British Airways, Easyjet and Virgin last night backed A Journalist’s call to get fully vaccinated Brits abroad after lockdown restrictions end.
Over 20 travel industry bodies are piling pressure on the PM to reopen international travel amid low foreign covid rates, and hundreds of smaller travel businesses on the brink of collapse.
Tim Alderslade, the group’s CEO, said: “When it comes to closing the border, Ministers seem to be able to manage it with ten minutes notice but not the other way round.
“If the unlocking of the domestic economy takes place as planned on 19 July international travel should not have to wait several more weeks.
“The clock is ticking to the end of the summer season and every day we put back reopening is another day of lost revenue, more unsustainable debt and the further risk of mass job losses.”
And he was backed by travel group ABTA who said the government should “recognise that double vaccinated passengers have a different risk profile to non-vaccinated passengers, both in respect of infection and transmission.
Boss Mark Tanzier added: “Other countries are ahead of us in this, as in many other respects. We plead for this change as soon as possible.”
Derek Jones, boss of travel firm Kuoni called the travel restrictions “haphazard.”
He added: “We are united in one message today: we want to see the safe re-opening of international travel alongside targeted financial support for businesses which have not been able to trade for well over a year.”
And Airport Operators Association chief Karen Dee said passenger numbers this summer will be worse than last year – which was the lowest since 1975.
She said: “Unless the Government makes a meaningful restart of international travel possible, this summer may be worse than 2020, putting more jobs in those communities at risk.
“The Government cannot afford to let those jobs go.”