Hopes of foreign summer holidays were given a boost last night after the European Union said its ‘vaccine passports’ scheme could be opened up to the UK.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced plans for a so-called ‘Digital Green Pass’ to kick-start travel.
It could come into force as early as June and the idea would be to open it up to non-EU countries to unlock the continent’s beaches and resorts in time for the lucrative summer season.
The European Union said its ‘vaccine passports’ scheme could be opened up to the UK. (Stock image)
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen revealed plans for a so-called ‘Digital Green Pass’
Last night Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK was in discussions with Brussels and he believed the plan also included facilitating travel for non-vaccinated tourists who can show proof of a recent negative test.
It came as Spain revealed it has opened side-talks with British officials and Greece said its proposal with the UK included welcoming non-vaccinated tourists who can show proof of a negative test.
Several EU countries have been calling for a relaxation of travel restrictions to boost their Covid-ravaged economies.
Announcing the measures yesterday, Mrs von der Leyen said the ‘vaccine passports’ scheme would aim to open up travel within the bloc first, raising the prospect of Europeans booking up hotels and resorts before Britons get the chance to join it.
She said: ‘The Digital Green Pass should facilitate Europeans’ lives. The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the EU or abroad for work or tourism.’
But crucially, her chief spokesman added: ‘We’re of the view that in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, there should be a way to scale this up globally.’
A source close to the European Commission chief said Britons were ‘always welcome’, adding: ‘As long as you meet all of the conditions and standards.’
It is understood the number of Covid infections in Britain will have to continue falling before the scheme is extended to the UK, but the comments will offer a glimmer of hope to lockdown-weary Britons desperate for a break abroad.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: ‘The Department for Transport will work and speak to countries across the world in terms of how they may look to introduce passports.’
And at last night’s Downing Street press briefing, Mr Hancock said: ‘We are working with international partners. The EU is part of those discussions, as are several other countries around the world, and it’s obviously important work.