Double Vaccine to Spur Foreign Travel, U.K.’s Johnson Says

Britons who have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine will be given extra freedom to travel around the world, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, as the U.K. prepares to set out new rules on foreign trips.

British officials have been weighing up allowing people who have been fully vaccinated to return to England without the need to quarantine for 10 days after visiting medium risk destinations. Johnson signaled on Thursday that the government will move ahead with the plan.

“The real opportunity we all have now is to open up travel through the double jab,” Johnson said in a pooled broadcast interview on Thursday.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is due to set out the latest rules on which countries are safe to visit and those that should be avoided on Thursday. Ending quarantine rules for fully vaccinated travelers isn’t expected to come into force until August.

Northern Ireland announced its own changes on Thursday evening, adding territories including Spain’s Balearic Islands, Barbados, Bermuda and Malta to its list of countries from which returning travelers don’t need to quarantine. Travel policies are often closely linked across the four U.K. nations.

The Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Madeira and Bermuda also joined Northern Ireland’s so-called green list for travel.

‘Lost Summer’

“There are some airlines that have already lost another summer,” Willie Walsh, the head of the International Air Transport Association trade group, said in an interview. He cited Aer Lingus, the Irish carrier he once ran and oversaw as chief executive officer of British Airways owner IAG SA. It’s dependent on transatlantic travel and is in a situation that’s “much more difficult than others.”

More than 60% of U.K. adults have now received their second dose of vaccines, fueling demands on the government to ease curbs on foreign travel to help an industry that has been battered by the pandemic, and give hope to millions of people who want to take holidays overseas.

Yet the prospects for Britons taking trips in Europe are uncertain. Last week, Italy imposed a five-day quarantine rule on people arriving from the U.K. due to the rise in British cases of the fast-spreading delta variant of coronavirus.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also suggested the whole European Union should coordinate its rules closely and be more cautious about allowing travelers from countries outside the bloc with high rates of the delta variant -- which would include the U.K.

Walsh said that since the U.K. hasn’t done anything specific to support the airline industry, “I wouldn’t be optimistic about them doing anything going forward.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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