THE EU is planning to let in British tourists who haven't had the jab – in a huge boost for summer holidays.
Brussels has offered hope for sunshine breaks after revealing proposals for easing border rules for those with vaccinations – as well as those from countries with low infection rates.
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Under current EU restrictions, only people from seven countries, including Australia and Singapore, are allowed to enter the bloc for non-essential reasons.
But new proposals would mean foreign citizens who are fully vaccinated orfrom countries with a "good epidemiological situation" would be allowed to travel.
People arriving from the UK, Russia and a number of other countries would be able to meet the new criteria, it's understood. However, US citizens might not.
EU member states are due to start discussing the proposal tomorrow.
Despite the good news, Boris Johnson is still mulling over his travel 'green list' – and it's likely top holiday destinations, including Spain and Greece, won't yet be on it.
It comes as:
- Surge Covid testing is extended in London to stop the spread of the South African variant
- The limit of 30 mourners at funerals in England will be lifted a month early after the Queen was pictured sitting alone at the service for Philip
- Britain is set to hit 50m Covid jabs as more than 15m get their second vaccine
- 'One metre plus’ social distancing ‘is to be scrapped in June’ so pubs and cinemas can reopen fully, it's claimed
- But masks and social distancing are set to stay past June 21, it's been suggested
The Prime Minister is set to decide which countries will open to British travellers when restrictions ease on May 17.
Senior ministers are still battling over how many countries will be added to the 'green list' – meaning travellers won't have to quarantine upon their return.
It's understood the list will remain small, and is likely to include Gibraltar, Malta, Israel and Iceland.
Portugal is the only major European holiday destination that could make it onto the list, set to be revealed this week.
Traditional holiday hotspots, including France, Spain, Greece and Italy, look set to be classed as amber for the time being as Europe battles a spike in cases.
And baffled Brits were hit with a further blow last night as it was announced popular holiday islands will be among those likely to go on the amber list.
The Balearics – which has a Covid rate less than a quarter of that of Spain's – and the Canary Islands, which has vaccinated almost a third of its adult population, are set to appear on the list.
Meanwhile, a source has claimed even countries on the green list could be swapped to the red list with little warning if cases surge unexpectedly or a new variant of concern is identified.
Under red list restrictions, UK passengers returning home must quarantine at a Government-approved hotel for ten days at a cost of £1,750.
Those returning from countries on the amber list will have to quarantine at home for 10 days and take two PCR Covid tests, although travellers can pay for a third test to end self-isolation after day five.
And today's news that the EU is preparing to reopen for the crucial summer tourism season is likely to leave would-be holidaymakers in limbo as they wonder whether trips will be possible at all.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock and chief medical officer Chris Whitty are said to be among those pushing for the green-rated countries to be kept to an absolute minimum.
Other senior figures are understood to be calling for a more relaxed approach.
They say that the outbreak is under control in the UK and the Government has no right to continue controlling the freedom to go on sunshine breaks.
One source told The Times: "The Government has no right to take people's freedoms away.
SPAIN AND GREECE 'ON AMBER LIST'
"It did it because we were in an emergency but these rights don't belong to the Government."
Spain is among the countries hoping to open from June. France says tourists with a French Covid 'health pass' will be welcomed from June 9.
Meanwhile, Greece's tourism minister tweeted that tourism will reopen on May 14, albeit with five security levels.
Portugal and Cyprus hope to welcome UK tourists from mid-May.
A total of 40 countries are on Britain's red list.
They include Chile in South America – which has experienced a horrifying surge in cases, despite a hugely successful jabs roll-out – and India, where patients are dying in streets outside hospitals.
Meanwhile, a political row has broken out over whether holidays should go ahead at all.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus has warned of “a deadly third wave and further lockdowns” if the prohibition on going abroad is eased.
It says the travel ban should continue with a review every three months, which would effectively rule out holidays until late August at the earliest.
Layla Moran MP, who is chair of the group as well as the Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesperson, said: “It is staggering that the Government is even contemplating encouraging overseas holidays when airports are already struggling to keep the virus and new variants at bay.”
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