The NHS app will be ready to be used as a digital vaccine passport in time for passengers to go on their summer holidays from May 17, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on May 7.
NHSX, the digital arm of the service, is racing to enable the app to be used by holidaymakers to prove that they are fully vaccinated when they arrive at their destination once the ban on travel is lifted from May 17, allowing them to sidestep quarantine or further testing.
The EU has already stated that it will be open to all inoculated visitors this summer. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen confirmed: “This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union. Because one thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA.”
Thus far, the EMA, the EU’s medical regulatory body, has approved the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson jabs.
In terms of actually visiting, only a handful of countries have thus far made the green list the UK’s ‘traffic light system’. However, with more to be added in due course, we can at least look to which countries have confirmed they will open to vaccinated holidaymakers this summer.
From May 8, Barbados will relax its entry requirements for anyone who has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
However, vaccinated visitors must still take a PCR test three days prior to travel, and complete a PCR test on arrival. Unvaccinated arrivals must also take a second test taken five days after arrival, and undergo self-isolation while they wait.
Belize became the first Central American country to welcome vaccinated travellers, waiving the requirement for a negative Covid-19 test. Visitors who can prove they have had both doses of an approved vaccine at least two weeks before entering the country will no longer need to be tested beforehand. They are required, however, to download the Belize Health App and input the information 72 hours before arrival in the country.
“The decision to ease the restriction on travellers who have received the Covid vaccine has been facilitated by the reduction in daily new cases across the country,” the Belize Tourism Board said in a statement.
Since April 1, anyone who presents a Covid-19 vaccine certificate (with the final dose taken at least 14 days before their arrival) can enter Croatia. You can also enter with a negative test result taken no more than 48 hours prior to your arrival in the country. Plus, entry is permitted to those who were diagnosed with and recovered from Covid-19 no more than 180 days before their arrival and can prove this to be the case.
If travellers arrive with a negative rapid test and stay longer than 10 days, they will need to take another test within those 10 days.
Cyprus now allows British tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 into the country without restrictions. British visitors are the largest market for Cyprus’s tourism industry, which has suffered from the pandemic.
“We have informed the British government that from May 1 we will facilitate the arrival of British nationals who have been vaccinated … so they can visit Cyprus without a negative test or needing to quarantine,” Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios told the Cyprus News Agency. Visitors would need to be inoculated with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency, he added.
Ecuador is currently on England’s travel “red list”. As such direct flights from the country are banned and Britons returning from there (via a connecting flight) will be subject to hotel quarantine at a cost of up to £1,750. However, should this change, Ecuador could be open to Britons this summer.
”As of 22 March 2021, travellers who have had their complete Covid-19 vaccination can present the official vaccination certificate instead of the above negative RT-PCR or rapid test result. However, the use of “Immunity Certificates or Vaccination Certificates/Cards” from foreign passengers will be subject to constant review,” states the FCDO advice for Ecuador.
Alternatively, visitors must present a negative test result taken up to three days prior to their arrival in the country
Estonia was one of the first European destinations to waive quarantine for vaccinated arrivals. The Foreign Office advice for Estonia states:
The 10-day self-isolation and Covid-19 testing are not mandatory for:
individuals who tested positive for Covid-19 and declared cured no longer than six months ago;
or individuals who have undergone Covid-19 vaccination less than six months ago;
- or arrivals from a country in the European Union, European Economic Area and the Schengen Area with an infection rate below 150 persons per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous 14 days.
British holidaymakers will be able to visit France from June 9 if they are vaccinated or have a negative Covid test, according to leaked plans at the end of April.
Separately, French President Emmanual Macron has said that publically that ideally, France would open for travellers “who are vaccinated, with a special pass” suggesting that a vaccine certificate or a negative Covid-19 PCR test would be required for travel to France this summer.
Georgia has announced it would reopen to vaccinated travellers. “Citizens of all countries, travelling by air from any country may enter Georgia if they present the document confirming the full course (two doses) of any Covid-19 vaccination at the border checkpoints of Georgia,” said the Georgian Government.
The FCDO states that any Briton with documentary proof of Covid-19 vaccination can enter without restriction. Unvaccinated must arrive with evidence of a negative PCR result, and take a second test three days after arrival.
Greece has indicated it will welcome vaccinated arrivals and reopen tourism services from mid-May.
“Greece is ready with a complete protocol for summer 2021,” said Prime Minister Harry Theoharis. “Tourists will be welcome if before travel they are either vaccinated, or have antibodies, or test negative. All tourists will be subject to random testing.”
Greece has already agreed a “travel corridor” with Israel allowing vaccinated people to travel between both countries.
The state of Hawaii could begin lifting quarantine rules for visitors who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 in an effort to revive its tourism industry.
Its current rules require anyone arriving on the Hawaiian islands to spend 10 days in mandatory self-isolation, unless they can provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of their arrival.
However, Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Joshua Green has said that authorities are looking at how a vaccine passport could work for travellers, potentially waiving quarantine for those who’ve been inoculated.
He told Hawaii News Now that this could involve vaccinated travellers receiving an electronic code which would also allow them to travel between islands.
Hungary’s government said it could require visitors to prove their vaccination status to gain access to the country via an app showing immunity to Covid-19. “The need for citizens to provide proof that they have gained protection against the coronavirus is increasing all over the world,” a government spokesperson has said.
Iceland is on the UK’s green list, and from April 6, all travellers, regardless of origin, are welcome to visit Iceland if they can show either a certificate of full vaccination against Covid-19 or a certificate of previous Covid-19 infection.
“The aim is to facilitate the movement of people between countries so that individuals can present a vaccine certificate at the border and are then exempt from Covid-19 disease control measures in accordance with the rules of the country concerned,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.
The country is currently leading the charge when it comes to vaccinations. More than 77 per cent of its population has received a second dose – higher than any other country in the world. What’s more, Israel has joined Greece in setting a precedent for a ‘vaccination bubble’, which Cyprus is also hoping to get in on. All arrivals between the countries can dodge quarantine on arrival with proof of immunity.
And the Israeli Government has made moves to expand the bubble later in the year. The Tourism Ministry has said they expect to open up to international arrivals “in the middle of 2021”.
Vaccinated arrivals can already dodge quarantine in Lebanon. The Foreign Office advises: “Diplomats and their families, official delegations and UNFIL officers are exempt from the quarantine measures, as well as those who have received the Covid-19 vaccination, on the condition that they have proof of vaccination and take a PCR test on arrival as a precautionary measure.”
Lithuania has loosened restrictions on those who have received the full course of the Covid vaccine. This means being exempt from testing on arrival and self-isolating in the country.
Malta will reopen to full vaccinated Britons from June 1. Those with proof of full vaccination will be able to side-step further testing and quarantine on arrival.
Malta also has plans to give tourists a voucher handout of up to £171 at certain hotels, to encourage longer stays.
Fully vaccinated travellers from any country can enter Montenegro. They must have received their second dose at least seven days before arriving in the country.
Alternatively, you can visit with a negative test taken within 72 hours of travel to Montenegro or a positive Covid-19 antibody test taken within the previous 30 days.
Poland is waiving a mandatory ten-day self-isolation period for arrivals who have been vaccinated. The Foreign Office advice reads: “You do not need to self-isolate if you are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and produce a certificate of vaccination for a vaccine authorised for use in the EU.
Portugal is also on the UK’s green list but remains closed to Britons for now. Last month Rita Marques, Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism, told the BBC: “I do believe that Portugal will soon allow restriction-free travel, not only for vaccinated people, but those who are immune or who test negative. We hope to welcome British tourists from May 17.”
She stressed that the situation in Portugal was “stable”, and said: “Everything will be ready by mid May.”
The island of Madeira is already welcoming travellers who can provide evidence of vaccination.
On January 18, the Romanian government announced that anyone from the UK who has had both doses of the vaccine, and arrives in Romania more than ten days after the second dose, will no longer be expected to self-isolate.
Anyone who cannot provide proof of vaccination will need to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test certificate, taken no more than 72 hours before entering Romania, and will need to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.
Since March 25, everyone (with the exception of people travelling from South Africa, Bangladesh, Brazil, India and Pakistan) is now free to visit the island, regardless of their vaccination status. Quarantine requirements will be dropped for those who have received two doses of the Covid vaccine, although for the time being all arrivals (even the vaccinated) will need to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.
Slovenia has a “red list” of countries, which does not currently include the UK. Travellers from countries that are on its red list are subject to 10 days of quarantine unless they meet an exemption, can provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within the previous 48 hours (and administered in the EU or Schengen Area), have proof of Covid-19 vaccination, or if they have recovered from Covid-19 and hold immunity (specific proof must be provided, as detailed here).
Spain is preparing to open its borders to British holidaymakers in June, provided they have a digital vaccine certificate or a negative Covid test result. The country is currently trialling its own version of the EU’s proposed Digital Green Certificate – a concept which will have both digital and paper iterations.
Of course, as the UK is no longer part of the EU, the Digital Green Certificate will not be applicable to Britons. But considering we contribute the most to Spain’s tourism coffers, with UK visitors spending €55billion (£50billion) annually pre-pandemic, it is likely an arrangement will be made to accommodate vaccinated Britons.
Travellers currently have to undergo a 15-day mandatory hotel quarantine in Thailand – one of the strictest border restrictions of any country in the world. This was reduced to 10 days from April 1, with a further reduction to follow in the summer. However, the country has announced that it will welcome vaccinated visitors to the island of Phuket, quarantine-free, from July 1.
Those who can prove they have received both doses of a vaccine will be permitted entry to the island. They will be transported from the airport to their hotel and will then be tested for Covid-19. If they test negative, they will be permitted to travel around Phuket. After a week, they will be allowed to travel elsewhere in the country.
From October, Phuket, Krabi, Phangnga, Koh Samui, Chonburi (Pattaya) and Chiang Mai will also reopen to vaccinated travellers (without a quarantine requirement). Again, visitors will be required to stay in their port of entry for seven days before travelling elsewhere in the country. Thailand is prioritising vaccinating 70 per cent of Phuket residents before tourism can resume.
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