Behind the scenes

Why England is dropping isolation for EU and US tourists

Ministers reportedly feared that Covid-19 measure was hobbling the economy

Fully vaccinated US and EU travellers will be able to enter England without the need for quarantine on arrival, ministers have said.

With newly recorded Covid-19 infections falling for a seventh successive day, Boris Johnson has decided to “reopen the country”, says The Telegraph, which notes that the prime minister’s push to relax the rules comes on his “first day back at work in Downing Street following his self-isolation” after contact with a positive case.

The newspaper says Chancellor Rishi Sunak and other ministers had “argued that the costs of stopping inward tourism and business trips were harming the British economy at a time when most of Europe has reopened”.

Sources told HuffPost’s executive politics editor Paul Waugh that the plan was “approved by the Covid-O operations committee of the cabinet” this morning, meaning the government will now “formally recognise American vaccine certificates, including paper versions, as well as EU versions that confirm someone has been double-jabbed”.

However, the BBC says: “It is not yet known when the change will come in.”

Relaxing the rules will “benefit millions of people by finally letting them be reunited with family and friends based in the UK, as well as businesses in the aviation and tourism sectors that have been hit hard by the pandemic”, says The Guardian.

Conversations are also ongoing between Whitehall and the devolved administrations about whether all four UK nations will adopt the plan. Sources told HuffPosts’ Waugh that Scotland remains undecided, while Wales is expected to follow suit. 

Currently, UK residents with two vaccinations can return from countries on the government’s amber list of travel destinations  - which include the US and the vast majority of Europe - without quarantining, but those inoculated outside the UK cannot.

Travel expert Simon Calder told the BBC: “We’re in this slightly ridiculous situation where if I’m on a plane from Spain, because I’m lucky enough to have had two jabs, once we get to the UK I just wander off, no problem.

“But the person sitting next to me, who happens to have had their vaccinations in Spain, not in the UK, has to go and sit in a room for ten days. Doesn’t make sense.”

Ministers hope the move to allow quarantine-free travel from the EU and US will help the UK “strike more deals” with foreign countries for a reciprocal quarantine-free travel for Brits, says The Times.

An industry source told the paper: “It was described as a way of endearing us to EU capitals in the hope they will relax restrictions for the British in time for the key holiday period of August. They’re more likely to let in Britons in return.”

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