Watch: COVID-19 - Travel restrictions may be eased for Britons who have had both jabs, Matt Hancock hints, but not 'right now'
The government is not considering relaxing restrictions surrounding international travel for Britons who have had both doses of coronavirus vaccine “right now”, Matt Hancock has said.
The health secretary disclosed that there are "discussions happening", but added that bringing in such a rule "isn't where we are right now".
Implementing such a policy at present would not be "fair" to those who are yet to have the chance to take up the offer of a second vaccination, he said.
Earlier on Thursday, a government spokesperson told Sky News that it is "working with industry for a safe return to international travel, guided by one overwhelming priority - public health".
They added: "Recognising the strong strategic rationale and success of the vaccine programme, we have commenced work to consider the role of vaccinations in shaping a different set of health and testing measures for inbound travel."
If approved, the new plan, first reported by The Telegraph, could mean that Britons who are fully vaccinated will not need to quarantine upon their return from destinations including the US and countries across Europe.
But speaking on Thursday afternoon, Mr Hancock suggested such a move would not come into effect imminently.
"Well we know that if people have both jabs then they get that full protection and we know that that makes it safer," he said.
"And so I know that there are discussions happening and suggestions that therefore there should be different rules and some other countries are looking at that and suggesting it - but it isn't where we are right now here."
Pressed on why the policy is not being introduced in the UK immediately, the health secretary added: "Not everybody has been able to come forward and get the jab.
"When only half of the population has been offered the jab then it is not fair in many ways to offer extra freedoms to some.
"But some countries are going down that route and obviously we have got to work to have a long-term, sustainable way that we can have international travel going.
"That isn't the case now, but it is something that we obviously work very closely on."
Jesse Norman, the financial secretary to the Treasury, said the government was "certainly looking at all the options here".
He told Sky News: "We don't want to get left behind by countries which may be adopting a two jabs approach if it can be done safely and if it can be done carefully and securely."
Listen and subscribe to The Ian King Business Podcast here.
Asked if Britons should not write off a foreign holiday just yet, the government minister replied: "We are trying to move cautiously and progressively in the right direction, so I wouldn't write anything off at this point.
"But then we are in a situation where the virus is not something we control and we have seen this new Delta variant, so it would be imprudent to make any carte blanche or firm statement now."
Mr Norman also admitted that a perception that under-30s - the majority of whom have only recently had the chance to get a first jab - would be discriminated against if travel restrictions were based on vaccination status was "certainly a consideration to be borne in mind".
"Of course the under-30s do not have anything like the same vulnerability to the disease that people older do," he added.
"The government is accelerating the rollout of vaccinations as fast as it can."
Just last week, the government was urging people to holiday at home this year instead of going abroad. But later that same day, Boris Johnson's spokesman didn't rule out a foreign trip for the PM himself.
The relaxing of restrictions for those who have had both jabs may help appease a furious air travel industry - with Ryanair and the owner of Manchester and Stansted airports due to launch legal action on Thursday.
Watch: COVID-19 - Ryanair accuses PM of travel 'shambles' and demands vaccine-led approach
Papers to be filed at the High Court will seek clarity over the transparency of the traffic light system amid frustration over the lack of green list destinations.
Renewed hopes of a UK vaccine-led approach helped travel stocks recover some ground with British Airways' owner IAG and easyJet both rising almost 4%.
The latest government data shows that more than 30 million people in the UK have now had both doses of a COVID-19 jab.
About one million people aged 21 and 22 became eligible to book their coronavirus vaccinations on Wednesday and those aged between 18 and 20 can book their jabs from Friday.
Few countries appear on the UK's "green list" for travel, where holidaymakers are not required to quarantine once they return.
At present, Britons are being advised not to travel to "amber list" countries - including popular hotspots such as Spain and France - as government guidelines state they must quarantine at home for 10 days after upon return.
The introduction of relaxed rules for vaccinated Britons could mean breaks to amber list countries would be permitted as the summer holiday season begins.
It could also encourage more people to get vaccinated and would serve as a boost for the troubled travel industry, which has struggled to operate under the restrictions and their changing nature.
Demand for travel collapsed in March last year when the UK went into its first lockdown and has yet to recover.