Sajid Javid is set to pave the way for reopening travel to EU countries with a new NHS app that is ready to bypass Angela Merkel’s quarantine demands.
The app has been updated to serve as a Covid passport that will enable British travellers to prove they are fully vaccinated, show a negative pre-departure test or show that they have had the virus in the past 180 days.
It is now ready to be integrated into the EU’s identical green pass system, which will allow people to travel freely throughout the bloc by revealing their vaccination or test status at borders.
"We are technically ready to be integrated into the EU database that will recognise your digital NHS signature and allow you to demonstrate your Covid status," said a senior industry source.
"There are some glitches with private test providers struggling to register their tests quickly enough but, once those are resolved, all that is required is for the EU to allow non-EU countries to be integrated."
Angela Merkel has called for EU countries to quarantine British visitors amid concerns about the Indian or delta Covid variant
Credit: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A European Commission spokesman said talks on the UK’s participation in the green pass system were "progressing well", adding: "The talks are ongoing at the technical level and going in the right direction. This is because the technical system architecture of the EU and the UK are aligned."
Germany has imposed a ban on travel from Britain, but southern European states including Spain, Greece and Portugal are so far resisting Mrs Merkel’s demands to follow suit and impose quarantine on even vaccinated British travellers to combat the spread of the Indian or delta Covid variant.
Spain and Greece are accepting Britons with either proof of vaccination or tests, while Portugal is only allowing entry without quarantine to fully-vaccinated adults and children under 12 until July 11. Italy requires five-day quarantine. France only allows in vaccinated Britons for essential travel.
The EU is expected to launch its green pass at the beginning of next month, but the opening up of major European destinations for Britons will hinge on the expansion of the UK green list and the timing of proposals to exempt the fully-vaccinated from having to quarantine on their return to the UK.
Travel countries on the red, green and amber list
The Department for Transport (DfT) is thought to be aiming for early August for the double vaccination travel scheme.
On Tuesday, Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said it would "require time" to work through the "complicated" policy of allowing double-jabbed travellers to avoid quarantine.
He cited the key "complexities" of developing a testing regime for unvaccinated children to travel, the problem of excluding young people who may not be double-jabbed by August, measures for the 500,000 unvaccinated for medical reasons and how to validate foreign travellers’ status.
Mr Shapps indicated he would present proposals to the Commons before recess on July 22, with the plans phased starting with British citizens.
The Transport Secretary suggested a backlash against Britain over the spread of the delta variant was partly due to the UK’s world-leading genome sequencing which meant it provided a more comprehensive picture of the virus than other nations.
He also cast doubt on a quick resolution to allow transatlantic travel restart because of "a whole series of complexities to resolve", including the US not recognising the AstraZeneca vaccine.