Hancock plans to scrap quarantine for fully vaccinated amber-list travellers

Government ‘working on’ ending requirement in England for 10 days’ isolation upon return

Ministers are planning to allow quarantine-free travel to amber-list countries for people in England who have been fully vaccinated, the health secretary has said.

Matt Hancock confirmed that ministers were considering how to scrap the requirement for people to isolate for 10 days on return from a country on the list, adding he was is “in favour of moving forward in this area”.

Asked if these plans could be in place as soon as August, Hancock said: “We’ll get there when it’s safe to do so.”

He told Sky News: “This hasn’t been clinically advised yet – we’re working on it,” adding that the government wanted to allow “the vaccine to bring back some of the freedoms that have had to be restricted to keep people safe”.

Hancock also said the government was “on track” for the easing of restrictions next month but acknowledged that opening up travel abroad was “more difficult”.

“Thankfully, because of the vaccination programme, we have been able to free up a huge number of the restrictions here at home,” he said. ”We are on track to deliver the step 4, the further openings, on July 19, which is good.”

Hancock was also pushed on the government’s social care plan for England and whether it would be delivered this year. He said it was a priority but declined to answer a question about whether a key meeting on this between him, the prime minister and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, had been postponed.

“Absolutely I am not going to get into diary management,” Hancock said. “I talk to the prime minister every single day and we’re working very closely together on the delivery of this policy.

“We absolutely were working on the plan before the pandemic struck but, you will understand, and your viewers will undoubtedly understand, that when the pandemic struck it was all hands on deck to protect lives and to get us out of this as fast as possible, and the vaccine is doing that.”

The health secretary said there would be a ramped-up flu vaccination drive this winter owing to concerns about a tough period ahead as influenza and Covid would be circulating.

“It is because we did not see any other communicable disease last winter in any serious size at all, and the clinical concern is that our immunity will be lower, fewer people had flu … almost no one has had it for 18 months,” he said in an interview with BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“We are currently doing all the work to see if can have a Covid booster shot and flu jab at the same time and that will help to manage this in the winter, but this winter will be challenging.”

“We do need to make sure we protect the NHS this coming winter. We have got time to do the preparation for that now, though, and make sure we are as vaccinated as possible because that is the way to keep people safe.”


Sarah Marsh

The GuardianTramp

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