UK Ministers are reported to be “working on” plans for quarantine-free travel for amber list countries if travellers are fully vaccinated, British Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has said, though they are still waiting to be “clinically advised” on the idea.
Secretary for International Trade, Liz Truss, told BBC’s Jeremy Vine that she would not speculate on the plans in terms of travel, but that the government was looking at what it might do to “ease up requirements where it makes sense”, adding “We’re not ready to make an announcement yet, but fundamentally what we need to do is – while keeping people safe – making sure we’re freeing up the rules as much as we can.”
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, who vice-chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, said scrapping quarantine measures would be “reckless” at this point and called for Downing Street to focus on upgrading health security systems at airports.
“The Delta variant first arrived here in the UK precisely because of inadequate pre-travel requirements and health checks at UK arrival halls, compounded by a lack of support and enforcement of mandatory quarantine,” she said.
Current rules for England, allow arrivals from green list countries to avoid quarantine but they must book a test for day two of their return.
Anyone arriving from a red list destination must isolate at a government approved hotel for 10 days. Travellers from amber listed countries – a category that covers most other countries, including Spain and The Canary Islands, – must quarantine for 10 days, which they can do at home.
Hancock told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that England remains “on track” for the relaxing of coronavirus restrictions next 19 July, with case rates “slowing” and hospitalisations “not rising quickly”.
He also said the number of people dying from Covid in England remains “very, very low” and said this showed the “vaccine was working”. Mr Hancock said that the winter could be “challenging”, but that he hoped the government would not have to bring back restrictions.
The UK registered 93 deaths involving Covid-19 during the week from 11 June – the lowest number in a single week since the August bank holiday last year. The Office for National Statistics said its data, however, still suggests that infections are continuing to increase in England and that the “trend is uncertain” in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.