Covid passports to be ready ‘as soon as possible’, say transport chiefs

The prospect of a summer holiday abroad this year being possible has been boosted after the government confirmed Covid passports will be available «as soon as possible».

Many popular tourist destinations will require international visitors to have been vaccinated or recently tested negative before they can travel.

The development of a coronavirus passport, also known as a health certificate, will enable UK holidaymakers to meet that obligation.

Foreign holidays could be permitted for people living in England from May 17 under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s road map for easing pandemic restrictions.

Some form of international Covid-19 passport is expected. Credit: AP

A Department for Transport spokesperson 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.»

A traffic light system for international travel will soon be introduced, with the differing colours determining if and how long a person arriving back into the UK will need to isolate for.

Under the traffic light system, assessments will be based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a country’s population which has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

How the traffic light system will work for international travel. Credit: ITV News

These are the rules for each category:

  • Green: There is no need to self-isolate. Take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on day two of your arrival in the UK.

  • Amber: Self-isolate for 10 days, unless you receive a negative result from a test taken at least five days after arrival. Take a pre-departure test, and PCR tests on day two and day eight of your arrival in the UK.

  • Red: Spend 10 days in a quarantine hotel. Take a pre-departure test, and PCR tests on day two and day eight of your arrival in the UK.

Nothing has been officially confirmed yet and more details on Covid passports for international travel will likely be announced in the coming weeks.

However, 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.»

Coronavirus passports, also known as health certificates, 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.

Arrivals at Heathrow Airport Credit: Aarown Chown/PA

Spain’s tourism minister said the country is «desperate to welcome» UK visitors this summer.

Fernando Valdes told Sky News: «I think we will be ready here in Spain. We also think that the vaccination scheme in the UK is going pretty well, so hopefully we’ll be seeing this summer the restart of holidays.»

He added that certificates enabling holidaymakers to prove they have been vaccinated or recently tested are «going to help us».

Mr Valdes 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.

«If we reach these kind of agreements from the month of June, we will be able to have a summer,» he said.

«Probably not as the one we had in 2019, but obviously the restart of tourism again.»

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But the Transport Select Committee warned that the resumption of international travel is in jeopardy with «vague and costly» proposals not enough to reboot the aviation and tourism sectors.

It said a report produced by the government’s Global Travel Taskforce gave «insufficient» detail to allow businesses and travellers to prepare for holidays to safely resume on May 17.

It added testing requirements could be «disproportionate to the risk» and may add £500 to the cost of a family of four visiting the «safest» parts of the globe where vaccine rollout is comparable to the UK.

Huw Merriman, who chairs the committee, said: «The aviation and travel sectors were crying out for a functional report, setting out clear rules and offering certainty. This is not it.»

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