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Europe lets quarantine fall away in face of vaccination

Empty loungers at Juan-les-Pins near Antibes - France is hoping for a busier summer this year.

France is one of the first countries in the world to put its trust in the vaccine, with a relaxation of entry regulations for inoculated travellers when it reopens on June 9.

Ahead of the summer holiday season, France has divided countries into green, amber and red groupings. Testing and quarantine requirements will be dropped for travellers who have been vaccinated.

Green countries - including the European Union, Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand and Singapore - can enter France without testing or quarantine as long as they are fully vaccinated.

A handful of countries, including Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Turkey, Uruguay and South Africa, have been listed as red, which means arrivals can only enter France for ‘essential travel’ and must quarantine for up to ten days.

The rest of the world falls into the amber category. Fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free as long as they have a negative antigen test taken within 72 hours of departure. However, unvaccinated travellers will only be permitted entry for essential travel reasons and must quarantine for seven days.

Few countries have so far let the vaccine take the strain when it comes to international travel. The United Kingdom’s entry regulations make no distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers and just a tiny handful of countries and territories can enter with no quarantine. Thailand is struggling with whether to maintain some form of quarantine for inoculated holidaymakers when it launches its Phuket Sandbox project in an effort to open up in July. Meanwhile, Hong Kong has reduced quarantine times for vaccinated returning residents, but the minimum quarantine from low-risk countries is still a hefty seven days of hotel isolation at travellers’ own expense.

France accepts all vaccines recognised by the European Medicines Agency, which currently includes Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Fully vaccinated means two weeks after the second jab for double injection vaccines and four weeks after the one-shot Johnson & Johnson inoculation.

Neighbouring Spain also reopened today to all fully vaccinated holidaymakers, with no need for quarantine or a Covid test.

Europe's vaccination programmes appear to be breaking the link between Covid-19 infections and hospitalisation. Despite a slight rise in infections in recent weeks as it opens up domestically, the UK recorded just one Covid death today. Spain has a seven-day rolling case rate of 62 cases per 100,000 and the UK 49.

Portugal has reported just six positive Covid cases following the arrival of more than 100,000 British holidaymakers when the UK added Portugal to its 'green', quarantine-free, list last month. Despite this, Portugal will be re-listed as an amber destination from June 8.

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