Britons have been offered fresh hope of foreign holidays after Boris Johnson said the vaccination programme offers a “real opportunity”.
Just days after urging people to stay at home, the prime minister switched tack – hinting quarantine requirements will be lifted soon for visits to ‘amber list’ countries.
“I think that the real opportunity we all have now is to open up travel through the double jab,” he said.
The comments come as the Balearic Islands, Malta and some Caribbean islands are expected to be added to the quarantine-free ‘green list’ later today.
But, more significantly, the government wants fully vaccinated Britons – and their children – to be able to travel to amber list countries, without the need for isolation of expensive testing on return.
Hinting that move is not far away, Mr Johnson said: “We’ve got more than 60 per cent of our population have now had two jabs, 83 per cent have had one jab. We’re really getting through it now.”
However, he added: “I’m not going to claim that this summer, for travel purposes, is going to be like any other summer. I don’t want to cast a pall over things but, as I said the other day, it will be different.”
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He did not rule out a foreign holiday himself, saying: “My plans at this stage are at the unformed stage, I’m afraid. I’m certainly not ruling it in or ruling it out.”
Earlier, Angela Merkel threw a spoke in the wheel by calling for all EU countries to force holidaying Britons to go into quarantine – as Germany and Italy do.
The German Chancellor called for a united EU approach, after rocketing cases of the Delta variant in the UK put it at the top of the table for Covid infections.
She was criticised by George Eustice, the environment secretary, who claimed the move was unnecessary – despite the UK itself currently requiring 10-day isolation on arrival from all EU destinations.
Greece and Spain are among Mediterranean sunspots that have broken with Brussels to allow in British travellers without requiring them to isolate, but are now under pressure to rethink.
Mr Johnson ducked that controversy, but added: “I’m not going to claim that this summer, for travel purposes, is going to be like any other summer. I don’t want to cast a pall over things but, as I said the other day, it will be different.”
He also defended UK actions after Russian jets and warships were involved in a dramatic confrontation with a Royal Navy destroyer in the Black Sea, off the coast of Crimea.
“It was wholly appropriate to use international waters,” he said on a visit to New Normandy Barracks in Aldershot.
“And, by the way, the important point is that we don’t recognise the Russian annexation of Crimea.
“This is part of a sovereign Ukrainian territory, it was entirely right that we should vindicate the law and pursue freedom of navigation in the way that we did, take the shortest route between two points, and that’s what we did.”