Fully vaccinated people in England will be able to travel to an amber list country without having to quarantine on their return “later this summer”, the government plans.

When the new exemption for those who have had two COVID jabs comes into force, the guidance that people should only travel to amber list countries for “essential” reasons will also be dropped, the Department for Transport has said.

It means that at that point, anyone will be able to travel to countries in the amber category – including France, Portugal and Germany – no matter the reason for their trip. Those nations, however, may set their own conditions on arrivals.

The changes are expected to come in phases, starting with UK residents.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said more details will be set out in July as the government explores options.

“Thanks to our successful vaccination programme, our intention is that later in the summer UK residents who are fully vaccinated will not have to isolate when travelling from amber list countries,” he said.

“We’ll set out further details next month.”

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Even when those double-jabbed are exempt from quarantine when visiting amber list countries, they will still be required to take a pre-departure test on Day 2, the Department for Transport said.

Announcing their “intention”, the department also said Spain’s Balearic islands, Malta, Madeira, and some islands in the Caribbean – including Barbados – are being added to England’s travel green list.

The government’s next update is expected to include rules around children and those unable to be vaccinated, how the scheme will work at the border, and the dates on which these changes will take place.

Ministers are awaiting a decision on whether under 18s should routinely be offered a vaccination. In the meantime, they are taking clinical advice on whether regular tests could be a safe alternative to quarantine for children accompanied by vaccinated adults.

Until all of the new rules come into force, the department said: “All passengers, whether vaccinated or not, must continue to abide by quarantine rules for returning to the UK from an amber list country, and it is recommended that people should not travel to amber list countries at the moment.”

Boris Johnson gave a clue about the changes earlier today when he said that a relaxation of travel rules for those who have received coronavirus jabs was on the horizon.

There is a “real opportunity” to “open up travel through the double jab”, the prime minister said.

Live COVID updates as travel list updated

It comes after the government announced on Wednesday that three in five adults across the UK have now received two doses of a vaccine, with all over-18s in all parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland now eligible to book appointments.

“We’ve got more than 60% of our [adult] population that have now had two jabs, 83% have had one jab,” Mr Johnson said.

“We’re really getting through it now. The crucial thing is to come forward and get your second jab.

“I’m not going to claim that this summer for travel purposes is going to be like any summer.

“I don’t want to cast a pall over things, but as I said the other day, it will be different.”

And Health Secretary Matt Hancock previously told Sky News on Tuesday that quarantine-free travel to amber list countries for people who have had two jabs is “absolutely something” the government is “working on”.

Reports in recent days have suggested that the change could come into effect in August.

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The prime minister said there is a ‘real opportunity’ to ‘open up travel through the double jab’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said ministers are “looking at what role vaccine certification can play in loosening some of the quarantine requirements”.

“I think people recognise, obviously, we’re doing this for protecting everyone’s health, we’ve made all these enormous strides, once we open up everything, hopefully on 19 July, we just want to make sure that we don’t put that at risk,” he told The Times CEO Summit.

Updating their travel guidance earlier on Thursday evening, the Scottish Government said a decision on whether those who have received two vaccine doses could be exempt from quarantine restrictions when returning from amber list countries would not be made “immediately”.

Scottish cabinet secretary for net zero, energy and transport Michael Matheson said: “From the outset we have said caution is required regarding international travel and people should think very carefully about travelling abroad as situations can suddenly change.”

He added: “We continue to work closely with the other home nations and are cautiously supportive of exploring options for the easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers arriving from countries on the amber list – but only if the clinical advice supports it and if systems are in place to ensure the wider safety of the Scottish population.”

Meanwhile, according to government data, the UK has reported 16,703 new COVID-19 cases and another 21 coronavirus-related deaths in the latest 24-hour period.

A total of 43,656,327 first jabs have been administered in the UK, while 31,908,103 people have been fully vaccinated.

Earlier on Thursday, Public Health England said that cases of COVID continue to rise in all parts of the country.

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The health secretary told Sky News on Tuesday that the government is looking into quarantine-free travel for Britons who’ve had two jabs

And on Wednesday, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the UK’s vaccination rollout has saved more than 14,000 lives, and prevented 44,500 hospital admissions in England alone, including 2,500 in the past two weeks.

Speaking at a Downing Street news briefing, he hailed the figures as “real progress” but warned “we know there is much more to do” as Delta variant cases continue to rise.