- UK says double vaccine injection process can open up travel
- Transport Minister adds Malta and Spain’s Balearic Islands to green list
- Anger is mounting over travel restrictions
- Merkel in Germany: Europe should quarantine the British
LONDON, June 24 (Reuters) – Britain will release plans next month to allow fully vaccinated people to travel unrestricted to all countries except those at the highest risk of COVID-19, in order to give a boost to a travel industry destroyed by the pandemic.
Airlines welcomed the move and were encouraged by news Thursday night that Britain would add Malta, Spain’s Balearic Islands and the Portuguese island of Madeira to its ‘green list’ for safe travel locations in from June 30.
“Thanks to our successful vaccination program, our intention is that later in the summer UK residents who are fully vaccinated will not have to self-isolate when traveling from Amber List countries,” said Transport Minister Grant Shapps.
“We’ll give more details next month,” he tweeted.
“The Department of Transportation declined to say whether the easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers would take place in a matter of weeks or months.
British Airways (ICAG.L) and Jet2.com (JET2.L) welcomed the news.
“We can’t afford another missed summer,” BA President and CEO Sean Doyle said in a statement.
“There are jobs at stake, Britons separated from their families and we cannot afford to waste the success of our vaccination program. “
EasyJet (EZJ.L) said the reopening fell short of a safe and lasting easing of restrictions promised by the UK government.
“Science shows that traveling to many European countries would have very little impact on hospitalization and this is even more the case now as COVID cases in Europe have declined,” said the CEO of EasyJet, Johan Lundgren.
The government is under increasing pressure to ease restrictions as the peak holiday season of July and August approaches.
Pilots, cabin crew, travel agents and other travel industry workers protested on Wednesday, calling on the government to open more routes, while BA, easyJet and TUI backed a lawsuit handing over involved the government’s travel rules. Read more
Britain has one of the fastest vaccination programs in the world, but so far the government has effectively blocked travel to most countries through quarantine and testing rules, prompting the industry to warn against multiple business failures and job losses.
“We are celebrating that the government’s work has paid off and Britain has appreciated the excellent health situation of the Balearic Islands to open it up as a safe destination for its citizens,” tweeted Spain’s Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto.
Eritrea, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mongolia, Tunisia and Uganda will be added to Britain’s red list for the most severe travel restrictions, Shapps said.
Israel will be added to the Green Watch List, which means it could be demoted to an Amber List country, meaning travelers must self-isolate upon their return.
Any wider reopening of travel from the UK faces a new challenge as European destinations could start restricting entry.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that she would like European countries to force people entering Britain to self-quarantine, as is the case in Germany, citing the high prevalence of the more infectious Delta variant in UK. Read more
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Sarah Young; edited by Kate Holton
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