Vaccine passports raise Britons’ holiday hopes
Brits may be allowed to travel from summer
Vaccine passports could allow British tourists to take holidays abroad this summer if the pandemic is sufficiently under control, it has been claimed.
The Department for Transport, the Foreign Office and the Department of Health are believed to working on options for some kind of vaccine certificate.
Government officials are working on the idea ahead of other countries demanding proof of vaccination as a condition of granting quarantine-free entry.
The latest developments towards more ‘normalisation’ came amid speculation that Greece is preparing to waive quarantine rules for Britons who can prove that they have had the jab.
Greece is keen to reopen its ailing tourism industry which normally welcomes two million Brits every year.
Now European resorts in Spain and Malta together with travel bosses are being encouraged by the speed of the UK’s vaccine roll-out.
It could see destinations open up to UK visitors late in the summer and in some cases earlier.
Grigoris Tasios, president of the Greek Hoteliers Federation, told The Times: “With the rate of inoculations in the UK largely outpacing all others across Europe and beyond, British travellers will be among the safest to travel here by as early as May.
Denmark is also planning to bring in vaccine passports by the end of this month to revive business travel.
Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is an adviser to the government on Covid-19, last week called for the roll-out of vaccine passports.
His organisation said the documents are the “only way to navigate allowing people to travel internationally again.”
Jim McMahon, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, struck a more cautionary note, saying: “Our priority at the moment must be to secure our borders against the threat of a mutation to the Covid that would undermine the vaccine.
“Labour will look at proposals around helping to allow people to travel safely, but this must be led by the science.
“However, currently 21,000 people are entering the country every day, with an ineffective quarantine system, as a result of Conservative incompetence.”
Quarantine delay defended
UK government ministers have defended another 10-day delay to the hotel quarantine scheme as it emerged that not a single hotel chain has yet signed up to take part.
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly insisted the plan was “taking time to prepare”, despite it being first announced nearly three weeks ago.
The government wants to reserve 28,000 hotel rooms across the UK in a bid to launch the scheme, but has been accused of dithering.
There are plans to accommodate 1,425 passengers a day from ‘red list’ countries when the scheme finally gets up and running.
Arrivals will have to stay in hotels for 11 nights at a cost of up to £1,000 per person, initially paid by the taxpayer at an estimated cost of £50million a month, before it is clawed back from the arrivals.