Boris Johnson says double jabs will be ‘liberator’ for travel
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As of July 19, fully vaccinated Britons are expected to no longer be subject to quarantine rules upon their return to the UK from amber list countries. The welcome news means travellers could soon be jetting off to the likes of Spain, France and Greece.
Ahead of the announcement, Heathrow Airport is trialling a new “fast-tracking” system for those who can show evidence they have received both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Under the scheme travellers will be able to upload their vaccination status before boarding, making for a speedier journey through the airport.
Internationally recognised “vaccine passes” will be recognised.
This includes the NHS app, the EU digital Covid certificate, the CDC card and US state-level digital certification.
Whether the trial will be made a permanent fixture at Heathrow or later rolled out to other airports, remains unknown for now.
However, if it is successful, it is likely the model will remain once quarantine restrictions have been dropped.
The trial is being carried out in partnership with Virgin Atlantic and British Airways.
John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow Airport, said: “This pilot will allow us to show that pre-departure and arrival checks of vaccination status can be carried out safely at check-in, so that fully vaccinated passengers can avoid quarantine from July 19.”
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It is hoped that the scheme will “reassure” the Government that the necessary checks can be carried out efficiently by airlines and airports.
Speaking on the BBC’s Today Programme, the chief executive of Heathrow Airport, added: “At the moment the main barrier to people who have been doubly vaccinated travelling being allowed to do that, is being able to demonstrate to the government that we can check that they’ve had the vaccination already.
“The trial that we’re starting later this week will allow us to demonstrate we can do that safely with 100 percent checks on double vaccination before people get on the plane.”
British Airways’ chief executive and chairman Sean Doyle said he is “confident” the trial will work.
“We look forward to providing the data that proves it’s simple for fully vaccinated status to be verified and to the Government meeting its commitment to get the country moving again,” he said.
Virgin Atlantic, meanwhile, are hopeful the new scheme will aid the reopening of US-UK travel.
Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said the trial shows the industry’s desire to “rapidly operationalise the new policy, and work with Government and authorities to ensure it is smoothly implemented at pace, supporting the reopening of the transatlantic corridor, without which £23 million is lost each day from the UK economy”.
In a joint statement, the airlines and Heathrow pointed out that the Government is not currently reaping “the economic and social rewards” of the UK’s “successful vaccine programme”.
The Prime Minister confirmed at a press conference that the Government would be working in partnership with airlines to allow fully vaccinated Britons to fly.
“We will work with the travel industry towards removing the need for fully vaccinated arrivals to isolate on return,” he said.
Though it had previously been thought the quarantine restrictions would not be lifted until August 16, reports now suggest they could be spiked as soon as July 19.
This will come into force along with the so-called “freedom day” when masks and other social restrictions are planned to be lifted.
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