Quarantine-free travel to Europe on cards this summer with plans for new NHS app

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 9:34 am
The new NHS app could allow UK tourists to avoid quarantine when travelling abroad (Photo: Shutterstock)
The new NHS app could allow UK tourists to avoid quarantine when travelling abroad (Photo: Shutterstock)

Travel to Europe without having to self-isolate could be possible this summer with the launch of a new NHS app.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid is planning to unveil a new NHS app which would allow travellers to bypass quarantine measures if they can prove they have been fully vaccinated, or recently tested negative for Covid-19.

Mr Javid has vowed that the UK will return to normal on 19 July, when all remaining lockdown restrictions are due to be lifted in England, saying there was “no reason” why the deadline would not be met.

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How would the app work?

The new NHS app could allow UK tourists to avoid quarantine if they can prove they have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, had a negative coronavirus test before departure, or provide evidence they have already caught the virus within the past 180 days.

The plans come after the EU announced its Green Pass scheme is due to launch in July.

The scheme will permit travel within the bloc if travellers can prove their vaccination status or provide evidence of a recent negative Covid-19 test.

The NHS app, which is different to the NHS Covid-19 tracing app, already allows people in the UK to show proof they have been fully vaccinated.

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has launched a campaign to try and prevent UK tourists from travelling to Europe amid concerns over the spread of the Delta Covid variant. A ban on all travel from the UK into Germany is already in place, and Ms Merkel is encouraging other European countries to follow suit.

A senior industry source told the Telegraph: "We are technically ready to be integrated into the EU database that will recognise your digital NHS signature and allow you to demonstrate your Covid status.

"There are some glitches with private test providers struggling to register their tests quickly enough but, once those are resolved, all that is required is for the EU to allow non-EU countries to be integrated."

A spokesperson for the EU Commission told the newspaper that discussions were “progressing well” with Westminster officials over plans to allow UK travellers onto the Green Pass scheme, adding that talks were “going in the right direction”.

Plans for quarantine-free travel still in the works

The Department for Transport is currently working on plans to allow fully vaccinated UK tourists to travel abroad by early August, according to the Telegraph.

However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has warned that ministers need "time" to work through the policy and said the rising Covid-19 cases in the UK could complicate matters, as the surge in rates has raised concerns in Europe.

Mr Shapps said it is the government’s intention to scrap the current 10-day quarantine rule for travellers returning to the UK from amber list countries for people who are fully, with an announcement expected to be made in July.

The next travel review is expected to take place on 15 July, just before the planned final easing of lockdown restrictions in England on 19 July.

However, UK holidaymakers do now have more options for a holiday abroad without having to quarantine, as 16 more destinations were added to the green list on Wednesday (30 June).

Holidaymakers have more options for a trip abroad from today (30 June) as 16 more countries are added to the UK’s travel green list.

Malta, the Balearic Islands, Madeira and some Caribbean Islands are among the new countries and territories to be added to the list, with travellers arriving in the UK from these locations no longer required to quarantine.

All of the new destinations, with the exception of Malta, have also been put on a ‘watch list’, along with Israel and Jerusalem, meaning they are at risk of being moved back onto the amber list.