Britain will next month publish plans to allow fully vaccinated people to travel unrestricted to all countries except those with the highest Covid-19 risk, in a boost for a travel industry wrecked 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 spots from June 30.
“Thanks to our successful vaccination programme, our intention is that later in the summer UK residents who are fully vaccinated will not have to isolate when travelling from amber list countries,” Transport Minister Grant Shapps said.
“We’ll set out further details next month,” he tweeted.
“We cannot afford another missed summer,” said BA chairman and chief executive officer Sean Doyle in a statement.
“There are jobs at stake, Britons separated from family members and we cannot afford to allow the success of our vaccine programme to be wasted.”
“The science shows that travel to many European countries would have very little impact on hospitalisation and this is even more the case now given that COVID cases in Europe have declined,” said EasyJet chief executive officer Johan Lundgren.
The government has come under increasing pressure to ease restrictions as the peak July and August holiday season approaches.
Pilots, cabin crew, travel agents and other workers from the travel industry held protests on Wednesday, calling on the government to open up more routes, while BA, easyJet and TUI backed a court case questioning the government’s travel rules.
Britain has one of the fastest vaccination programmes in the world but so far the government has effectively prevented travel to most countries through quarantine and testing rules, prompting the industry to warn of multiple business failures and job losses.