- UK says dual vaccine shooting process could open up travel
- Transport Minister adds Malta, Spain’s Balearics to the green list
- Germany’s Merkel: Europe must quarantine Britons
LONDON June 24 (Reuters) – Next month, Britain announces plans to allow fully vaccinated people to travel unlimited to all countries except those with the highest COVID-19 risk, in a boost for a travel industry devastated by the pandemic .
Airlines welcomed the move and they were further cheered by news late on Thursday that Britain will add Malta, Spain’s Balearic Islands and the Portuguese island of Madeira to its “green list” for safe travel destinations from 30 June.
“Thanks to our successful vaccination program, our intention is that British residents who are fully vaccinated later in the summer do not have to isolate themselves when traveling from amber list countries,” said Transport Minister Grant Shapps.
“We will describe further details next month,” he tweeted.
“The Department of Transport declined to say whether the easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers would take place within a few weeks or months.
British Airways (ICAG.L) and Jet2.com (JET2.L) welcomed the news.
“We can not afford another missed summer,” BA Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle said in a statement.
“There are jobs at stake, Britons separated from family members, and we can not afford to let the success of our vaccine program be wasted.”
EasyJet (EZJ.L) said the reopening lacked a safe and sustainable easing of restrictions promised by the UK government.
“Science shows that travel to many European countries would have very little impact on hospitalization, and this is even more the case now that COVID cases in Europe have fallen,” said EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren.
The government has come under increasing pressure to ease restrictions as the peak season in July and August approaches.
Pilots, cabin crew, travel agents and other travel industry workers protested Wednesday, urging the government to open more routes, while BA, easyJet and TUI supported a lawsuit questioning the government’s travel regulations. Read more
The UK has one of the fastest vaccination programs in the world, but so far the government has effectively prevented travel to most countries through quarantine and test rules, prompting the industry to warn of more business failures and job losses.
“We are celebrating that the work of the government has borne fruit and the UK has appreciated the Balearic’s excellent health situation to open it up as a safe destination for its citizens,” tweeted Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto.
Eritrea, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mongolia, Tunisia and Uganda will be added to Britain’s red list for the strictest travel restrictions, Shapps said.
Israel will be added to the green watch list – meaning it can be downgraded to an amber country, meaning travelers will have to isolate themselves on return.
Any wider reopening of travel from the UK faces a new challenge as European destinations may begin to restrict entry.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that she would like European countries to demand that people entering the UK be quarantined, as is the case in Germany, citing the high incidence of the more contagious Delta variant in the UK. Read more
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Sarah Young; editing by Kate Holton
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