UK holidaymakers could get Covid passports to travel to Europe by late June
UK holidaymakers could be visiting European countries again by late June following the launch of Covid passports.
The UK government has confirmed plans to introduce the passports, also known as health certificates, to enable British travellers to meet the requirements to enter foreign countries.
The passports are expected to include proof of a coronavirus vaccination or a recent negative test, and will be made available “as soon as possible”.
Agreed standards for travel
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to hold travel talks with G7 counterparts with the aim of establishing agreed standards under which international travel will be acceptable going forward, The Telegraph reports.
Many popular European holiday destinations have announced plans to reopen their borders in June, and if talks are successful, it could mean that Uk holidaymakers could be able to visit destinations like France and Italy by the end of that month.
It is expected that many countries will require international visitors to have been vaccinated against Covid-19 recently tested negative, or have natural immunity from a coronavirus infection in the least six months, before they can enter.
The passports would be used to help create ‘travel corridors’ which could be used by travellers to avoid tests and quarantine restrictions.
A source told The Telegraph: "G7 ministers will be looking at digital solutions to simplify and facilitate international travel and that would include vaccination passports."
A government spokesperson added: "Unlocking international travel in a safe, secure and sustainable way is vitally important, which is why we have been engaging with governments on how best to achieve these shared aims."
When will foreign holidays be allowed?
Under current plans, the earliest date when people living in England, Scotland and Wales will be able to holiday abroad is 17 May.
However, this will be dependent on various factors, including the number of Covid-19 cases across the country and the success of the coronavirus vaccine rollout.
Northern Ireland has not yet confirmed its plans for holidays and travel.
Will I need a coronavirus passport?
The UK government has said it will introduce coronavirus passports so that UK holidaymakers will meet the requirements to enter foreign countries, including proof of vaccination or a recent negative test.
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We are working on a solution to enable residents to prove their Covid-19 status, including vaccination status, to other countries on the outbound leg.
“We are working on this as a priority and intend to have the solution ready as soon as possible.”
The Daily Telegraph reported that a government official told travel industry leaders in the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group: “We aim to give people the ability to prove their vaccine status by the time international travel restarts where other countries require it.”
The passports would initially only be available for people travelling abroad, and a wider scheme for domestic use is unlikely to be ready by next month, according to the newspaper.
Which European countries will welcome UK tourists?
Spain’s tourism minister, Fernando Valdes, has said the country is “desperate to welcome” UK visitors this summer.
Mr Valdes said that enabling holidaymakers to prove they have been vaccinated or recently tested are “going to help us”, and insisted Spain is “pushing hard” to persuade the European Commission to reach agreements to reopen travel between “third parties such as the UK”, as well as EU member states.
Malta, Portugal, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus are also among the hotpots keen to reopen to tourists, thanks to the success of the UK vaccination programme.
Diplomats from the EU’s 27 member states have debated making vaccination rates the main factor in re-opening travel corridors in the coming month, with travellers expected to have to show proof of a Covid-19 vaccination, or negative test, to visit.
However, Greece has said that British travellers will not require coronavirus passports, and will instead just be able to show their NHS vaccine card.