Brit holidaymakers may need paper vaccine passports as NHS app won't be ready but 'will get free Covid test to take'

BRITISH holidaymakers may need paper Covid vaccine passports to travel abroad – but tests will be made freely available to open up tourism again, it's reported.

The certificates could be used from May 17 – the date the travel ban could be lifted – because of delays rolling out the scheme digitally.

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The Government has admitted the NHS app might not be ready to use as a vaccination certification by that date and is preparing "another approach".

At least 20 countries have indicated they will allow holidaymakers to use vaccine passports instead ofPCR tests.

But only Greece has confirmed it will accept paper certificates amid fears that paper Covid passports can be easily forged.

The Portuguese government has said it will only accept a digital pass.

Spain is in talks with Downing Street for a "mutually recognisable" app.

A source told The Telegraph: "I suspect they will take whatever evidence we have in the short term, whether it is another private app solution, a paper certificate, a letter from your GP or a negative PCR test."

Travellers without a vaccine certificate may have to prove their Covid status by taking a PCR or lateral flow test – even if they've had the jab.

The PM's official spokesperson appeared to confirm the app wouldn't be ready to go on time.

He told reporters: "There are other routes to achieving the same end goal.

"We are working on the app at the moment, at pace, to have it ready, and we will be able to confirm ahead of the 17th at the earliest what approaches we will be using."

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is due to unveil the full list of countries free to visit on Friday – with travel industry bosses braced for a flurry of bookings this weekend. 

Only a handful of destinations, including Gibraltar and Malta, are expected to be in the "green-list" of quarantine-free countries.

And while holiday hotspots in the EU are desperate to welcome back tourists, Boris Johnson has hinted he won't let Brits go amid fears of an "influx of disease".

The PM is still mulling over his travel 'green list' – and it's likely top holiday destinations, including Spain and Greece, won't yet be on it when it's announced as early as this week.

Those countries may have to wait until a review of the situation in June.

Portugal is the only major European holiday destination that could make it onto the green list.

Traditional holiday hotspots, including France, Spain, Greece and Italy, look set to be classed as amber for the time being as Europe battles a spike in cases.

And baffled Brits were hit with a further blow last week as it was announced popular holiday islands will be among those likely to go on the amber list.

The Balearics – which has a Covid rate less than a quarter of that of Spain's – and the Canary Islands, which has vaccinated almost a third of its adult population, are set to appear on the list.

Spain is among the countries hoping to open from June. France says tourists with a French Covid 'health pass' will be welcomed from June 9.

Meanwhile, Greece's tourism minister tweeted that tourism will reopen on May 14, albeit with five security levels.

Portugal and Cyprus hope to welcome UK tourists from mid-May.

Meanwhile, a source has claimed even countries on the green list could be swapped to the red list with little warning if cases surge unexpectedly or a new variant of concern is identified.

Under red list restrictions, UK passengers returning home must quarantine at a Government-approved hotel for ten days at a cost of £1,750.

Those returning from countries on the amber list will have to quarantine at home for 10 days and take two PCR Covid tests, although travellers can pay for a third test to end self-isolation after day five.

A total of 40 countries are on Britain's red list.

They include Chile in South America – which has experienced a horrifying surge in cases, despite a hugely successful jabs roll-out – and India, where patients are dying in streets outside hospitals.

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