British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Thursday that, from July 19th, people visiting amber list countries including Austria would no longer have to quarantine on arrival back in England, as long as they were fully vaccinated.
However, this exemption is only aimed at UK nationals living in Britain and vaccinated there. That rules out the majority of Brits in Austria, unless they received both vaccine doses in the UK.
What has been decided?
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “From July 19th, arrivals who have been fully vaccinated with an NHS administered vaccine in the UK (plus 14 days), or are on a formally approved UK vaccine clinical trial, returning to England from amber list counties will no longer need to quarantine.
“Passengers will need to provide proof of their vaccination status to carriers in advance of travel.”
This means that any UK nationals living in Austria who had their jabs in the UK can travel quarantine free – but the majority who had their vaccines in France will still face a 10-day quarantine if they want to travel to the UK to visit friends and family, as well as paying around £160 for the compulsory day 2 and 8 travel testing package.
The announcement sparked fury among UK nationals living abroad, many of whom have not seen family for 18 months as they cannot afford expensive travel testing packages as well as taking an extra 10 days off work to quarantine.
TRAVEL UPDATE: From MONDAY 19 JULY 4am #British fully vaccinated adults will not need to isolate from amber list countries 🚦 including those on clinical trials – another step to fully reopening international travel. Children under 18 will not need to self-isolate.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) July 8, 2021
What does this mean for Brits living in Austria?
As it stands, they will still have to quarantine for 10 days – with the possibility of ending it in England after a negative test taken on the fifth day – when visiting friends or family in the UK, even if they are fully vaccinated.
The Department for Transport confirmed to The Local that this exemption is for anyone who was vaccinated in the UK or part of a UK clinical trial on vaccines.
This means that any UK nationals living in Italy who had their jabs in Britain can travel quarantine-free.
However, those vaccinated in Austria will still face a 10-day quarantine if they want to travel to the UK to visit friends and family, as well as needing to pay around £175 – or more – for the compulsory travel testing package.
What’s the reaction from Brits in Europe?
British citizens resident in Austria and other countries in Europe reacted with anger and sadness at the news that they would not be exempt from the UK’s quarantine requirement.
We asked @UKinAustria for clarification over the statement by @grantshapps this morning, in which he stated "I can confirm today from July 19 UK residents who are fully vaccinated through the UK vaccine rollout will no longer have to self-isolate when they return to England."
— britishinaustria (@britishinat) July 8, 2021
The campaign group British in Europe summed up the mood when they tweeted: “We just want to see our families.”
People also questioned why some UK authorities had also agreed to let up to 1,000 football fans travel quarantine-free from Italy to London for Sunday’s Euro 2020 final.
People who the UK will let in without quarantining:
1) Italians who want to watch football.
2) Brits returning from a fortnight in Shagaluf.
People the UK refuses to admit w/o quarantine:
1) Fully vaccinated Brits living in the EU who haven’t seen their families for a year.
— James Savage (@SavLocal) July 8, 2021
🇬🇧 New UK travel rules in a nutshell:
🏝 Great for British sunseekers
💔 Disastrous for family reunions pic.twitter.com/eA7SLMsODL
— Trent Murray (@trent_murray) July 8, 2021
However, there is some hope that things won’t stay the same.
The Local spoke to an EU source about the mutual recognition of Covid certificates in the EU and the UK.
The European Commission source told us: “When it comes to the UK, the talks are ongoing at the technical level and are progressing well and going in the right direction.
“This is in particular because technically speaking the EU’s and the UK’s architectures are aligned.
“On the US, the EU continues exchanges with the US on the use of (vaccination) certificates to facilitate travel. We are also following closely how the debate on the certificates evolves in the US.”
The UK’s Department of Transport said that a further announcement on fully-vaccinated non-EU residents is expected before the end of the month.
Shapps said that ministers are “actively working” on proposals to allow people who’ve received their jabs outside the UK to be exempt from quarantine rules when travelling from amber list countries.
He suggested people in the EU could be allowed in sooner than those in the US due to the digital vaccine pass scheme being rolled out.
What are the rules for travelling from the UK to Austria?
Austria in June extended a ban on arrivals from the United Kingdom until August 31st, due primarily to concerns surrounding the Delta variant.
The ban applies primarily to tourist travel, with Austrian citizens and residents – along with citizens and residents of other European countries – allowed to enter Austria from the UK.
Those who are allowed to enter will need to provide evidence of a negative test and will need to quarantine for ten days, although you can leave quarantine after the fifth day with a negative PCR test.
On June 21st, Austria removed the ban on direct flights from the UK to Austria.
In addition to the UK, the ban also applies to other ‘virus variant’ areas, including Brazil, India and South Africa.