Children under 18 must be exempt from the Government’s proposed new double vaccination scheme for holidays, senior Tories have urged, as ministers appeared to endorse the plan.
Jesse Norman, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, confirmed on Thursday that the Government was looking at opening up summer holidays abroad to fully vaccinated Britons, allowing them to return from amber list countries without having to quarantine.
Amid concerns that EU nations are stealing a march on the UK by opening up to vaccinated travellers, he said: "We don’t want to be left behind by other countries that are taking a two-jab approach if it can be done safely."
Officials are currently preparing a double vaccination strategy, but ministers have yet to decide whether under-18s should be exempted and whether the scheme should apply only to Britons but not foreign visitors.
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Huw Merriman, the Tory chairman of the transport select committee, said it had repeatedly called for travel to be made easier for those who were fully vaccinated.
"The Government should deliver this proposal – it amounts to the first instalment of the vaccine dividend for those wishing to go abroad," he said.
"For those too young to receive the vaccine, we cannot leave them behind. Testing and a low risk from Covid should allow for their inclusion."
Graham Brady, the chairman of the influential Tory backbench 1922 committee, said more than 30 countries exempted vaccinated holidaymakers from quarantine and it was "high time" the UK caught up.
"Children for whom vaccination is not recommended or routinely available should be exempt from this requirement," he said. "Families should be able to travel together in the knowledge that children are also less likely to catch Covid or to spread it."
Britain’s airlines will write to Boris Johnson on Friday, urging him to open up amber list travel to fully vaccinated Britons when the current traffic light system for foreign trips is reviewed on June 28.
Travel countries on the red, green and amber list
Tim Alderslade, the Airlines UK chief executive, said: "This is the last chance saloon for the aviation and travel sectors. Either the next review opens things up from July onwards or else the summer is effectively over.
"The stakes could not be higher for the tens of thousands of people who work in this industry."
New figures show UK airlines flying out of Britain are being forced to cancel dozens of flights just as EU countries are starting to add to their schedules, fuelling fears that other companies could follow easyJet and move planes over to Europe.
Data from aviation analysts Cirium shows half the scheduled flights from the UK to Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal are being axed daily. Flights to Greece dropped by more than two-thirds from 47 to 13 and 39 to seven on two days at the end of May.
With just 11 countries on the UK’s quarantine-free green list, the number of flights leaving the country are 72.5 per cent down on 2019 levels for June – the worst performing nation in Europe apart from Ireland, according to air traffic control data.
By contrast, Europe is edging back towards normality as it opens up to vaccinated holidaymakers. Greece is down 44 per cent, Portugal 47 per cent, France 52 per cent and Spain 54.5 per cent.
One travel operator said: "Our bookings in Germany are going like the clappers. All the Germans are going to the Algarve and Majorca and they are having no problems putting their towels on the sun loungers because the Brits are not there."
Paul Charles, the chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: "The Government’s policies are leading to a substantial reduction in airlines using the UK. They are shifting their assets to Europe or delaying the introduction of services. These policies are starting to hurt economically and damage the fabric of the UK economy."