Quarantine-free travel to amber list countries for people who have been fully vaccinated is “absolutely something” the government is “working on”, the health secretary has told Sky News.

“This hasn’t been clinically advised yet, we’re working on it,” Matt Hancock said about the move, which would see the current 10-day isolation replaced by daily COVID-19 testing.

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“When I’m in a position to be able to say something then we will do,” he continued.

“But it’s absolutely something we’re working on and it’s something I want to see.”

The health secretary said the government was “working on plans to essentially allow the vaccine to bring back some of the freedoms that have had to be restricted to keep people safe”.

He added: “After all, that’s the whole purpose of the vaccination programme, that’s why it’s so important that every adult goes out and gets the jab.”

Mr Hancock said the government is “on track” to lift the remaining domestic coronavirus restrictions on 19 July, but acknowledged that relaxing rules around international travel is “more difficult”.

The health secretary’s comments come after The Times reported that ministers are set to announce a change to England’s travel restrictions as soon as Thursday.

According to the newspaper, fully-vaccinated people returning from amber list countries would not need to quarantine at home for 10 days from August.

This would mean people who have had two jabs could travel to countries like France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and the United States and not have to self-isolate when they get back.

Mr Hancock did not say when such a move would be introduced, telling Sky News: “We’ll get there when it’s safe to do so, we want to do this right.”

He also said that the main NHS app will be “important” in the future, with countries likely to need Britons to prove their vaccination status before entering.

“Six million people have now downloaded the main NHS App and on that you can show whether you have had the jabs,” Mr Hancock said.

“It’s important because we know other countries are going to say that they want proof that you have been vaccinated before you go.

“So, when travel is opened up, we are going to make sure people have got that ability to prove it.”

Boris Johnson said on Monday that 2021 will be a “difficult” one for international travel “whatever happens” with COVID.

“I think it’s very important that we look at the opportunities for all of us over the coming months from two jabs, we’re one of the most vaccinated countries in the world now,” he said.

But the prime minister added: “I want to stress that this is going to be – whatever happens – a difficult year for travel.

“There will be hassle, there will be delays, I am afraid, because the priority has got to be to keep the country safe and stop the virus coming back in.”

Reacting to the health secretary’s comments, Labour’s Nick Thomas-Symonds told Sky News he could see how having two jabs “could be part of a reopening of international travel” but called for a “proper strategy”.

“We want to see international travel opened up when it is safe to do so,” the shadow home secretary said.

“But my concern about this proposal is that we are yet again going from one proposal to another.”

He said that “at the moment” there should just be a green list for quarantine-free travel and a red list where travel is banned except for limited circumstances and returning Britons have to isolate in a government-approved hotel.

© Sky News 2021


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