Spain has confirmed it is looking forward to welcoming back British holidaymakers to its beaches in June as the UK confirmed its NHS app will double as a vaccine passport.
Revealing Spain was throwing open its beaches, tourism minister Fernando Valdes Verelst said: ‘June will be the start of the recovery of tourism in Spain. By then, we will have a digital vaccination certificate in place and we will be able to reopen our borders.’
Mr Valdes said Spain was pushing for the UK’s digital vaccine passport to be ‘mutually recognised’ and that he welcomed Boris Johnson’s plans to restart international travel.
It comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the Government is working on using the existing NHS Covid app to show that people have received their vaccine for international travel.
Mr Verelst said he expected Spain to be on the UK’s travel green list when international travel resumes thanks to the country’s successful vaccine rollout which has seen 22 per cent of the population receive a first dose.
This would mean Britons returning to the UK from Spain would not have to quarantine.
Spain’s tourism minister has said it is looking forward to welcoming back British tourists in June with a Covid passport. Pictured: People sunbathe in Lloret De Mar in Costa Brava, Spain
Tourism minister Fernando Valdes Velest says Spain is ‘desperate’ to welcome Brits back from June and has said he is expecting the country to be on UK’s green list on its traffic light system
Speaking at the World Travel and Tourism Councilin Mexico, he added: ‘Because of the progress in our vaccine rollout with 22 per cent of our population having had their first dose already, we expect by June to be at the green light.
‘We are having close conversations with UK authorities and we are exchanging information on Spain’s digital system and the trial happening at our airports in May.’
Spain is the UK’s most popular overseas destination with 18.1million people visiting the country from the UK in 2019.
The port city of Malaga in Spain’s Costa del Sol was easyJet’s top beach destination for British tourists in 2019.
It comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the Government is working on using the existing NHS coronavirus app to show that people have received their COVID-19 vaccine for international travel.
‘It will be the NHS app that is used for people when they book appointments with the NHS … to be able to show that you’ve had a vaccine or that you’ve had testing, and I’m working internationally with partners across the world, to make sure that that system can be internationally recognised,’ he said.
He told Sky News he would be chairing a meeting of G7 transport ministers from the G7 next week to discuss the plan further.
The UK has earmarked May 17 as being the earliest date when international travel would be allowed for non-essential reasons following a winter lockdown, with a ‘traffic light system’ based on individual countries’ COVID risk levels.
Spain is the UK’s most popular overseas destination with 18.1 million people heading to the country in 2019 with Malaga (pictured) being easyJet’s most popular beach destination
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the Government is working on using the existing NHS Covid app to show that people have received their Covid vaccine for international travel
Shapps said he would set out into which categories countries would be placed early next month.
‘The data does continue to look good from a UK perspective notwithstanding those concerns about where people might be travelling to and making sure that we’re protected from the disease being re-imported,’ he said.
Talks between the UK and the EU are set to resume in days in a bid to sort out Covid passports for summer holidays in the hope they could be in place by June, officials have suggested.
Vaccinated Brits with Covid passports could holiday in the US, France, Italy and Germany by June 28, it was revealed, though Greece insists the handwritten paper NHS card handed out with a jab will suffice.
The EU is closing in on a deal with the US on Covid passports, with officials also saying they are open to a similar policy with the UK.
In response, a UK government spokesman said Britain was also ready to open talks with the EU shortly.
The spokesman said: ‘Ensuring free and open travel with our European partners is vitally important which is why we will be engaging the European commission on reopening travel routes from the UK shortly.’
Meanwhile, it was revealed UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will hold talks with G7 counterparts at the Cornwall summit between June 11 and 13 with a view to securing a free travel agreement to popular destinations.
Mr Shapps will argue that they should agree international standards for vaccinated travellers heading to ‘green list’ nations who show digital proof of vaccination, a negative test or proof of immunity at passport control.
There would also be talks on bilateral ‘travel corridors’ to the US, France, Italy, Germany and other nations for passengers with a covid passport, according to the Daily Telegraph.
ITALY: UK pushing for Brits with Covid passports to be able to holiday freely by the end of June
GREECE: The islands including Rhodes (pictured) are ready to welcome tourists in mid-May and plan random testing at airports to deal with tourists
Boris Johnson (pictured yesterday) has vowed to push on with vaccine passports despite increasing warnings they could discriminate but Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis says his country will welcome vaccinated Britons without one
Greece insists the paper handwritten NHS card handed out with a jab will suffice as proof until the EU catches up
But Greece, which will open its borders on May 15 – two days before the UK allows holidays – is planning to go it alone, for now.
Harry Theoharis, the Greek tourism minister, told The Times their resorts will be open to any vaccinated Britons as long as they present their NHS vaccination card, signed by a nurse of doctor after getting the jab.
He said ‘Until the UK has a digital passport, we have seen the paper cards that are provided with the two vaccine appointment dates and we are recognising them. They can be used on the ground and at the borders.’
Mr Theoharis said that testing would take place on arrivals, but only at random, with a review if positive cases jump upwards in the UK.
He added that once the EU sets up a digital scheme then they will sign up, but they are not willing to wait.
The European Union will throw open its borders to America this summer as it uses ‘the same jabs’ as the bloc, its top Eurocrat said yesterday.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the EU was in advanced talks with Washington about kick-starting holidays by using ‘vaccine passports’ to re-open transatlantic routes.
But yesterday a Commission spokesman said there were ‘no such contacts yet’ between the UK and EU over recognition of health certificates for getting Britons back on European beaches.
In an interview with the New York Times Mrs von der Leyen said: ‘The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines. This will enable free movement and the travel to the European Union.’
She added: ‘Because one thing is clear: All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by the EMA.’
Lavishing further praise on the Biden administration she added that the US was ‘on track’ and making ‘huge progress’ with its campaign to reach so-called herd immunity, or the vaccination of 70 percent of adults, by mid-June.
America is currently rolling out the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccine jabs, which are also approved for use across the EU by the European Medicines Agency.
Asked whether Mrs von der Leyen was in similar talks with the UK, a Commission spokesman said: ‘So far there are no contacts to this end with the UK.’
The majority of Britons want the UK’s foreign travel ban to last until next year – and most have no intention of going on holiday anywhere this summer, an exclusive poll for MailOnline revealed today, as Ministers rush through covid passports in time to start foreign breaks on May 17.
As Spain said it was ‘desperate’ for Brits to return this summer, some 55 per cent back extending the Covid restrictions on non-essential trips abroad into 2022 – while just 21 per cent would oppose the idea.
Meanwhile, 43 per cent say they are not planning to go anywhere at all on holiday this summer, with only a quarter harbouring hopes of a break in another country.
The findings, in an exclusive poll for MailOnline by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, underline the level of nervousness among the population after a year of brutal lockdowns.
It comes as ministers try to rush through ‘Covid passports’ in time for the scheduled easing of the non-essential travel ban on May 17 – but will only reveal the UK’s ‘green list’ of countries on May 7 – as Spain talked up a quarantine-free travel corridor.
Vaccine passports could create a ‘two-tier society’, but many voters back them for travel
Millions could go to pubs with no social distancing under plans to let drinkers use mobile phones to prove they are free of Covid. This graphic shows how the app would have worked
Greece says it is ready to welcome vaccinated British tourists immediately when its resorts open up on May 15, while Spain and Portugal say they will throw open their borders from June along with much of the EU.
Spanish Tourism Secretary, Fernando Valdés, said he wants UK holidaymakers to ‘restart holidays’ in six weeks, adding: ‘We are desperate to welcome you this summer.
‘We’ve been having constant conversations with UK authorities’. Mr Valdes said a travel corridor between the two countries, allowing quarantine-free breaks, is firmly on the table but only with covid passports ‘easing’ the return of ‘safe’ travel.
The European Union’s ban on visitors in 2021 is not expected to apply to the UK because of its world-leading jab programme that has seen more than 33million get one dose and 10million of those receive both doses already.
A Government source told MailOnline that the Covid passport scheme would be in place next month to help people who want to travel to countries that are requiring proof of vaccination – but the source insisted that the key factor for Britons will be the rules on quarantine when returning to the UK.
‘You’ve got countries saying we will welcome you. But it depends what the precautions on return are. We will have that green, amber, red system. It is about what you face when you come back to the UK…. Can you isolate for 10 days?’, the insider said.
And they suggested that holidaymakers will not know what countries fall into what ‘traffic light’ category until around a week before May 17, probably May 7. The criteria for assessing countries are set to include whether there are variants of concern, how good their genomic scanning system is, vaccination levels, and overall infection levels.
‘That will all become clear much nearer the time,’ one source said. ‘India has just gone off… You’re going to book a holiday in Spain in June? Well, good luck, but just make sure you are insured.’
Britons are preparing for the ‘longest summer ever’ as lockdown-weary holidaymakers rush to go abroad as late as November to beat global Covid crackdowns.
Autumn bookings for international trips have seen an 80 per cent surge in interest compared to 2019 – as tour operators, hotels and airlines all report increased queries about later holidays.
It comes amid warnings that summer trips could be under threat if the Foreign Office advises against travel to green list countries.
The Government is preparing to lift the ban on international travel on May 17 and is finalising plans for a ‘traffic light’ system to determine which countries will be authorised destinations.
However, experts have warned of confusion because the Foreign Office is expected to publish its own advice which could differ from the colour-coded scheme.
This means if the FO advises against travel to a certain country – even if it is permitted by the traffic light system – holidaymakers could see their plans disrupted.
Most holiday companies will not operate services in countries the Foreign Office has advised against visiting.
Meanwhile, going to a country against government guidelines will invalidate travel insurance.
Britons keen to avoid potential holiday issues – and those concerned about a much-slower vaccine rollout in several European nations – are looking at going abroad much later in the year.
Online flight booking website Skyscanner told The Times that more sunseekers are looking at holidays in September, October and November now than they were in 2019.
Some 43 per cent of all bookings at Co-op Travel fell into the late-summer category.
It was earlier revealed that even destinations on the green or amber list – where travel is permitted – could be off-limits if the Foreign Office advises against travelling to them.
Their advice is based on factors such as the risk of individuals getting stuck by Covid restrictions or the capacity and quality of the country’s health services.