United Kingdom

EU is set to welcome British holidaymakers with Covid vaccine passports

The EU is expected to sign off on plans for people from Britain who have had both jabs to fly in Europe without having to quarantine or take a Covid test.

The so-called vaccine passports could be given the green light as early as Wednesday, according to the Daily Telegraph.

It comes on the same day the Government’s travel ban was lifted as the regulations were loosened, with thousands of people flying out to the countries on the green list.

Passengers disembark from an early morning flight to Madeira, one of the government's green list destinations, earlier today

The EU’s proposal would mean people from low-risk countries, which could soon include the UK and USA, could fly to anywhere in the continent.

The UK still requires people to take tests or quarantine when returning from abroad.

Boris Johnson is expected to announce an expanded green list of safe places to visit on Wednesday.

A member of the flight team on the plane to Madeira shows her delight at being airborne

It comes as the boss of British Airways called on the Government to reunite Britons with their families overseas by urgently opening up air travel to low-risk countries.

In a rallying cry to Ministers, Sean Doyle said data on vaccination and infection rates for countries including the US, Spain and Greece made a 'compelling case' for putting them on the green list for quarantine-free travel from early next month.

Digital portals such as NHS app to show if people had their jabs

Member states of the EU are set to recommend digital portals which will let people use the NHS app as a vaccine passport.

The EU is currently developing its own version to show people have had both their jabs.

The UK, with 44 cases per 100,000 people, and USA, with 35 per 100,000, are expected to be added to the bloc’s green list in the near future.

The BA chief executive said the six million British expatriates around the world were desperate to see their loved ones after 'a very tough 14 months'.

Mr Doyle told The Mail on Sunday: 'You've got people who have got elderly or frail parents they have been unable to see.

'You've also got people who have suffered bereavements who haven't been able to come back and grieve.

'These are massively emotional situations people are finding themselves in, and I think as people get vaccinated, as infections fall, one of the things people want to do first is to get out and reconnect with loved ones.

'When travel can be safely opened up, that's something we would be very keen to enable.'

Last week Boris Johnson said the quarantine-free travel green list will not be expanding 'very rapidly'.

The Prime Minister said: 'We will certainly be making sure that people travelling abroad will be subject to all the tests and constraints to prevent the virus being reimported.

‘That's why it's such a tiny list of countries and I don't expect we will be adding to it very rapidly. We will be maintaining a very, very tough border regime for the foreseeable future. It is just too early to talk about exactly what the summer will be like.'

His downbeat outlook came as 18 airport bosses signed a letter urging Mr Johnson and his counterparts in the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to initiate 'a more meaningful restart of travel'. 

They wrote: 'We believe the current extremely limited green list of countries demonstrates that the UK is being overly cautious and will fail to grasp the opportunities resulting from the successful rollout of the vaccine.

A group of tourists who flew in earlier in the day from Manchester and Essex enjoy a drink by the marina in Vilamoura, in Portugal's southern Algarve region

'There are a million jobs in aviation, with a further half a million jobs relying on aviation in the tourism sector.

This is quite apart from the many sectors that need aviation in order to trade with both existing and new, developing markets. With the current restrictions the Government is applying, those jobs remain at very high risk.'

They warn 'serious failures to manage the border' also threaten the recovery.

There have been queues of up to seven hours at Heathrow as border guards check passengers' Covid paperwork manually and electronic passport gates remain closed.

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