Brits could enjoy quarantine-free holidays in Greece this summer as the two countries discuss vaccine passports
- Greek tourist minister said ‘technical discussions are underway’ with London
- 4m tourists normally visit Greece each year, Britons bring more than £2bn
- Greece has already agreed freedom of movement for jab recipients with Israel
Britons could enjoy quarantine-free holidays in Greece this summer as the two countries discuss vaccine passports.
Tourism minister Haris Theoharis said ‘technical discussions are underway’ to enable what Athens hopes will be a ‘semi-normal’ summer for its vital tourism industry.
Nearly four million tourists normally visit Greece each year, with British visitors contributing more than £2 billion to the economy.
Mr Theoharis said that a vaccine passport could be used to prove immunity to Covid and allow Britons to fly without also needing to provide a test certificate.
A tourist enjoying the sun in Santorini, Greece (stock image). Nearly four million tourists normally visit Greece each year, with British visitors contributing more than £2 billion to the economy
The tourism minister told Radio 4: ‘We don’t want to limit travel to those who have been vaccinated but since we are mandating that before travelling someone has to have a negative test result, this is a waste of resources if people are vaccinated to be tested every time they travel, the need for this testing could be limited by the vaccination certificate.’
Greece and Israel have already made an agreement to allow for free movement of vaccinated people when international flights resume.
Mr Theoharis said he was optimistic about the UK because of its rapid vaccine rollout which he hoped would mean the ‘situation would be much, much better’ in the summer.
He argued that vaccine passports were a more secure way of facilitating travel than test certificates where someone can still easily contract the disease after providing a negative result.
He added that the latter option was also more vulnerable to fraud.
‘For example our vaccine certificates which are digital have three levels of security and can be confirmed and verified by the relevant authorities in the countries that we discussed,’ Mr Theoharis told the BBC.
Downing Street has expressed caution on the domestic use of vaccine passports, but accepted that they may be necessary for international travel.
Last week, Matt Hancock said that the Covid vaccine was ‘absolutely essential’ for summer holidays.
But the Health Secretary – who has said he will travel to Cornwall – urged people to be realistic about the possibilities for travel to sunnier climes.
Airline bosses have attacked the Government for refusing to provide a clear path out of lockdown at a crucial time of year for holiday bookings.
Boris Johnson’s roadmap is expected on Monday, but it is not clear what the Government will commit to, given its scientific advisers are still extremely wary about the virus.
The chief executives of British Airways, easyJet, Jet2.com, Loganair, Ryanair, Tui and Virgin Atlantic said today the Government should provide a clear indication of intent that aviation will restart in the coming months.
‘We’re not saying lift all travel restrictions from tomorrow,’ Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, said. ‘We’re saying there is a way to lift restrictions safely as the vaccination programme is rolled out and hospitalisations fall.’
The airlines say that without this, the UK faces a year of limited global connectivity, and the economic recovery will be hindered.
Airlines also called for more economic support to stimulate and strengthen any recovery when it comes.
The firms said Mr Johnson’s lockdown announcement should include a road map for airlines and consumers to help them plan for the summer.
UK health officials will decide this week if those arriving from the two countries should isolate for ten days in one of the 16 quarantine hotels approved by the Government in an effort to stop the mutant variants from spreading.
It comes as Britain’s Covid rates have plummeted to the lowest levels since September before the second wave erupted.
Department of Health figures show the UK recorded 12,057 new infections in the last 24 hours, marking a 10.6 per cent drop from last Thursday.
Another 454 deaths were also announced, a 33 per cent fall on the same time last week.
The Cabinet Covid Operations Committee will make its decision on travel using evidence from the Joint Biosecurity Centre.
It comes after analysis carried out by the World Health Organisation found dozens of countries where the highly-infectious South African and Brazilian variants had been found were not on the Government’s high-risk list.
They included Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Japan, Kenya, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada and the US.
Both Spain and the US have seen new mutations of Covid-19 transmitted locally and are close to South America and Portugal, which are both already on the UK Government’s ‘red list’.
What are the rules for entering Britain?
- You cannot enter the UK if you’ve been in or through a country on the banned travel list (known as the ‘red list’) in the last 10 days, unless you’re British, Irish or you have the right to live in the UK
- You must either quarantine where you’re staying or in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days
- What you need to do depends on where you travel in the 10 days before you arrive – if you travel in or through a country on the banned travel list within 10 days, you must stay managed quarantine hotel; if not, you can quarantine at home
- You need to provide your journey and contact details in the 48 hours before you arrive in the UK. You must do this by completing the online passenger locator form
- You’ll need to show proof that you’ve completed the form when you arrive at the UK border as well as proof of a negative PCR or antigen test taken three days before departure
- You could be fined £500 when you arrive at the border if you cannot provide proof that you have had a negative coronavirus test
- You do not need a test if you’re travelling within the UK, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey; from Ireland; from Ascension, Falkland Islands or St Helena; and children under 11 do not need a test
- After arriving at a quarantine hotel you will be tested on days two and eight of your stay using a PCR test self-administered in your room
- In Scotland, arrivals from all international destinations have to quarantine, even if they are not on the red list.
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