A passport app demonstrating the Covid status of travellers, will be launched on Monday.
The move was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, along with other lockdown easing measures. Johnson confirmed that the resumption of international travel will go ahead on May 17 as part of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown. He added that the government was also currently on track to meet the June 21 date of lifting almost all restrictions in England.
App will provide Covid status before travel
Passengers will be asked to prove their Covid status before travelling – either by providing proof of a negative test, and/or proof that they have received two doses of an approved vaccine. The easing of lockdown restrictions will allow people to travel to “green list” countries such as Portugal and Israel. Residents are still being advised against travel to countries classified as “amber” which pose a higher risk of infections and will require a 10-day quarantine on returning to the UK.
The Prime Minister said: “This unlocking amounts to a very considerable step on the road map to normality and I am confident that we will be able to go further.”
The NHS app can be accessed through Apple and Android smartphones and is downloadable for free from the device’s App Store. It is separate to the NHS Covid-19 app, which is used for contact tracing. Travellers without smartphones will be able to use a vaccination status letter. Coronavirus testing will still remain for all those who are travelling abroad to a green list country or otherwise.
Lockdown lifting is “too cautious”
The lockdown lifting measures have been branded as being too cautious by industry body Airlines UK and pilots’ association BALPA, both of which criticised the limited number of countries on the government’s green list. Last week, Airlines UK CEO Tim Alderslade dubbed the green list announcement as a “missed opportunity” and “a reopening of air travel in name only.”
He warned: “By contrast the EU has said vaccinated people will be able to travel without restrictions which leaves the UK at risk of falling behind and not opening up international travel to key markets across Europe as well as the United States.”
BALPA General Secretary Brian Strutton said: “This excess of caution from the Government is extremely disappointing for everyone who works in the travel sector and the millions of people who are desperate to jet away on holiday or business. The huge success of the vaccine roll-out in the UK, the ever-growing vaccination rates in Europe, and the massive effort from everyone to make travel Covid-safe should have meant a much longer Green List than what we’ve got today.”
Both organisations have called on the government to make major additions to the Green list at the next review point in three weeks, with BALPA warning that the “testing burden” could result in travel becoming “the preserve of the wealthy only.”