The results of a joint UK proving trial established by Heathrow, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have demonstrated the UK government can rapidly expand its amber policy and remove self-isolation for fully vaccinated US and EU citizens arriving into the UK.
The news comes as the government reportedly prepares to remove quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers from amber list countries in the coming weeks.
Using a selection of US, Caribbean and European routes, the trial proved that airlines and airports can very effectively check a wider range of recognised vaccination statuses for different nationalities – in both paper and digital format – at the point of departure and away from the UK Border.
This means there is no further pressure in immigration halls.
Verification checks ensured 99 per cent of credentials were authentic with the remaining one per cent denied where documentation requirements were not met.
Under the current rules, arriving travellers from amber countries need to have been fully vaccinated as part of the vaccination programme in order to avoid self-isolation.
But this policy excludes travellers who have been fully vaccinated anywhere else in the world.
The restriction is at odds with that of countries such as France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta, which have been welcoming fully vaccinated travellers, including US residents, without the need for self-isolation, from the start of July.
As part of the ten-day trial, fully vaccinated customers on selected flights from Los Angeles, New York, Montego Bay and Athens agreed to share their vaccination status at their departure airport, showing the industry is ready to rapidly adapt and operationalise further vaccination checks, to support a safe reopening of the skies at scale.
Data from Public Health England has shown two doses of the vaccines offer 79 per cent protection against becoming ill from the Delta variant and reduces the likelihood of needing hospitalisation by 96 per cent.
Sean Doyle, British Airways chief executive, said: “We are confident that this proving trial provides the evidence the government needs to allow fully vaccinated customers from low-risk countries to enter the UK, knowing it’s possible to do so smoothly and safely.
“The UK needs to safely re-open its borders as soon as possible to ensure loved ones can reunite, business can thrive and global Britain is able to take advantage of the world-leading vaccination programme.”