Fired-up Boris Johnson says now is the time to 'open up travel' hours before big green list announcement

BORIS Johnson today declared it's time to kickstart international travel again in a major boost to Brits' holiday hopes.

The PM said there's a "real opportunity" to reopen favourite destinations to sun seekers thanks to the UK's stellar vaccine rollout.

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He confirmed that he's personally in favour of a new system which would allow those who have been double-jabbed to avoid quarantine.

That would put hugely popular amber list countries like Spain, Portugal, France, and Greece back on holidaymakers' radar.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is tonight expected to announce a new additions to the green list including Malta, Madeira, and Balearic Islands.

Boris said today: "I think that the real opportunity we all have now is to open up travel through the double jab.

"If you look at it we've got more than 60% of our population have now had two jabs and 83% of that one jab.

"We're really getting through it now. The crucial thing is come forward and get your second jab.

"I'm not going to claim that this summer for travel purposes is going to be like any other summer.

"I don't want to cook cast a pall over things, but it will be different."

His remarks come after Matt Hancock announced officials are "absolutely working on" exemptions for the double-jabbed.

The notoriously cautious Health Secretary said such a scheme is "something I want to see".

Under the blueprint double-jabbed Brits returning from amber list countries would be able to replace quarantine with daily tests.

So long as they returned a negative swab every day for 10 days they would be able to go about their ordinary business.

But it is understood there's a deep rift within Cabinet over when the rules should be freed up.

Mr Shapps and Chancellor Rishi Sunak want to open up travel again from the July 19 Freedom Day.

They are battling Mr Hancock, Home Secretary Priti Patel, and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

The trio believe the new scheme shouldn't start until August and even then it should be made as hard as possible for Brits to go away this summer.

It has been reported that the PM is currently coming down in favour of their more cautious approach.

But one Government source said: "We want to get things moving, but the usual suspects want to be more cautious."

Environment Secretary George Eustice warned it will be "difficult" to reopen travel this summer.

He said: "I want us to get back to a position where we can support those who want to travel to do so.

"Nobody likes the draconian restrictions we've had to put in place over this last year we've wrestled with the pandemic. But it is difficult.

"The biggest threat still to our progress against this pandemic, and the great progress we've made on vaccination, is that there will be another variant somewhere that maybe hadn't been properly detected in another country, and that that variant is more resistant to the vaccination.

"That's the, that's the great challenge that we've got. That's why we are proceeding with caution."

The move will come as a boost to sun-starved Brits but many favourite destinations are still out of bounds despite their low Covid rates.

And Angela Merkel is now lobbying European countries to shut their frontiers to the UK to stop the spread of the Indian variant.

Germans are already stealing a march on Brits and have been flocking to Spanish beaches to soak up the summer sun.

That's despite the fact their country has a lower vaccination rate than the UK and is averaging seven times as many deaths per week.

A top Public Health England scientist has also backed plans to open up travel for the fully vaccinated.

Dr Susan Hopkins said there may be "alternatives to isolation" for holidaymakers who have received both of their Covid jabs.

But she warned that Brits should stick to home holidays this summer.

Asked if there is a chance those who have had two jabs could go abroad, she said: "We'll be looking at the evidence from other countries.

"We've talked a lot to countries like Israel who are ahead of us in the vaccination campaign, and they are now really looking at allowing people to come into their country who've had two vaccines and not needing to isolate.

"And they are allowing their population to travel more.

"We will need to be alert and will need to consider how we can measure the response of these vaccines to new variants that come along.

"But we are moving steps forward, and I think that in a time in the future, I'm not sure when, I can imagine a situation where we will have alternatives to isolation for people who have two doses of the vaccine."

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