The United Kingdom is preparing to drop covid-19 restrictions that require visitors from the U.S. and European Union to quarantine for 10 days on arrival, according to several newspapers in England.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that planning was in the works during an interview that aired Wednesday morning but was cagey on the details. In fact, Johnson clearly wanted to downplay any further plans to open up the country, despite dropping all the country’s internal covid-19 restrictions on what he called “Freedom Day” on July 19.
“At the moment we’re dealing with a Delta wave, the US is dealing with a Delta wave, but be assured that we are on it the whole time. As soon as we have something to say about travel corridors you’ll be hearing from us,” Johnson told LBC, according to the Independent newspaper.
An exact date for quarantine-free travel by vaccinated people from the U.S. and UK hasn’t been decided yet, but the British news outlet ITV said it’s expected to be sometime in August.
The UK maintains a colour-coded system for every country in the world, which determines how long people must self-isolate when they arrive in the country. The colours are like a traffic light, with virtually no restrictions for green, some restrictions for amber, and a complete ban on people coming from red list countries.
People from the UK’s so-called Green List can currently travel without restrictions, including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The U.S. and countries in the EU are on the UK’s amber list.
Britons travelling from countries on the amber list have been able to skip 10 days of mandatory quarantine if they’ve been fully vaccinated in the UK. The new rules, whenever they’re passed, would allow tourists who were vaccinated elsewhere to also skip self-isolation.
Airports have been trialing a system for vaccinated travellers, as the Guardian explains:
In an attempt to encourage the government to ease international travel restrictions, Heathrow, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic ran a 10-day pilot scheme, which they said showed US and EU fully vaccinated passengers could be safely exempted from the requirement to isolate.
Around 250 double-jabbed passengers on selected flights from New York, Los Angeles, Jamaica and Athens in July presented their credentials using paper or digital formats before boarding the plane.
Around 99% of their documents were verified as authentic, while just two passengers’ credentials were rejected. In one case there was a discrepancy between the name on the passenger’s vaccine card when compared to their passport, while another had been fully vaccinated less than 14 days before travel.
The UK has fully vaccinated 55.79% of its eligible population, the 14th best in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has vaccinated 49.75% of its eligible population, the 22nd best in the world.
The UK saw over 23,000 new cases of covid-19 on Tuesday, with 131 new deaths. The U.S. reported over 108,000 yesterday and 406 new deaths.