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Angela Merkel BACKS DOWN on travel rules after talks with PM 

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Angela Merkel today backed down in a row over coronavirus travel rules as she said in the ‘foreseeable future’ fully-vaccinated Brits will be able to visit Germany without having to quarantine. 

Speaking alongside Boris Johnson at a press conference at Chequers, Mrs Merkel said Germany is ‘reviewing continuously’ its travel restrictions. 

At the moment all UK travellers have to self-isolate on arrival in Germany for 14 days, with no exemptions.

But Mrs Merkel said that soon double-jabbed people ‘will be able to travel again without having to go into quarantine’.  

Mrs Merkel last month had urged all EU member states to adopt Germany’s hardline approach to border rules. 

Her comments today, following bilateral talks with Mr Johnson on the subject, pave the way for quarantine-free travel to open up across Europe in a massive boost for vaccinated British holidaymakers.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson used the same press conference to attempt to sooth the holiday fears of up to five million Brits over whether the AstraZeneca vaccine batch they received will be recognised by European countries.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) does not recognise a version of the vaccine produced by Covishield at the Serum Institute of India (SII), even though it is just as effective as AstraZeneca doses made elsewhere. 

Holidaymakers given this vaccine could therefore be refused entry at EU border crossings when batch numbers are checked on digital Covid passports. 

But countries including Greece, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, Estonia, Germany, Slovenia, Iceland, Switzerland and Ireland have all confirmed they plan to accept the jab and Mr Johnson said he is ‘very confident’ the issue ‘will not prove to be a problem’. 

It came as Mrs Merkel congratulated the England football team and wished the nation luck after it beat Germany in the last 16 of the Euro 2020 tournament. 

She said England ‘deserved’ to win the match on Tuesday but admitted she was ‘a little bit saddened’ by the 2-0 defeat. 

However, she expressed ‘grave concern’ over the number of fans allowed to attend games at Wembley Stadium but Mr Johnson said matches were going ahead in a ‘very careful and controlled manner’.  

Meanwhile, both leaders expressed optimism over the UK and the EU being able to solve post-Brexit problems relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol as Mrs Merkel said she believes ‘pragmatic solutions’ are possible.     

Today’s trip will be Mrs Merkel’s final visit to the UK as German Chancellor as she prepares to stand down later this year. 

Following her summit with Mr Johnson, Mrs Merkel travelled to Windsor Castle for an audience with the Queen.  

Angela Merkel today met with Boris Johnson at Chequers for bilateral talks as she prepares to step down as German Chancellor later this year

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he welcomes Chancellor Merkel to the Chequers countryside retreat in Buckinghamshire

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he welcomes Chancellor Merkel to the Chequers countryside retreat in Buckinghamshire

The pair talk as they walk outside in the garden of the Prime Minister's country residence, Chequers

The pair talk as they walk outside in the garden of the Prime Minister’s country residence, Chequers

Mrs Merkel announced that Germany will soon change its travel rules for people who are double vaccinated so they no longer have to quarantine on arrival

Mrs Merkel announced that Germany will soon change its travel rules for people who are double vaccinated so they no longer have to quarantine on arrival 

Mrs Merkel also congratulated the England football team for beating Germany in the last 16 of the Euro 2020 tournament

Mrs Merkel also congratulated the England football team for beating Germany in the last 16 of the Euro 2020 tournament 

Following her summit with Mr Johnson, Mrs Merkel travelled to Windsor Castle for an audience with the Queen

Following her summit with Mr Johnson, Mrs Merkel travelled to Windsor Castle for an audience with the Queen

The UK's case rate has rocketed in the opposite direction to Germany's as a result of a huge dump of Indian variant cases being imported to Britain in late April. Britain is recording more than 300 cases per million people at the moment but there are signs the Indian strain is starting to gain ground already in Germany

The UK’s case rate has rocketed in the opposite direction to Germany’s as a result of a huge dump of Indian variant cases being imported to Britain in late April. Britain is recording more than 300 cases per million people at the moment but there are signs the Indian strain is starting to gain ground already in Germany

Boris Johnson jokes to Angela Merkel the ‘wurst is behind us’ over post-Brexit UK-EU ‘sausage war’

Boris Johnson today attempted to make light of the so-called ‘sausage war’ row between the UK and the EU as he joked to Angela Merkel that the ‘wurst is behind us’. 

Mr Johnson and Mrs Merkel discussed the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the bloc this afternoon during talks at Chequers. 

The German Chancellor said she and the Prime Minister talked about the implementation of the contentious Northern Ireland Protocol and she expressed optimism that ‘pragmatic solutions’ can be agreed to smooth border checks. 

Britain and Brussels agreed a truce this week on one of the thorniest issues relating to the protocol: The export of chilled meat from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. 

EU rules would effectively ban those exports but the two sides have agreed to extend a grace period to the end of September to allow shipments to continue and to provide more time to find a permanent solution. 

Mr Johnson said that ‘with goodwill and with patience we can sort it out’. 

Mrs Merkel had urged the EU to adopt a continent-wide, hardline approach to quarantine to stop the spread of the ‘Delta’ variant which has taken hold in the UK. 

But this afternoon she announced a major shift in policy as she said: ‘We have adopted certain protective measures when we were not as yet so familiar with the Delta variant.

‘We now see that the share of the Delta variant in Germany is increasing very rapidly.

‘As you know we are reviewing continuously our travel restrictions and we think that in a foreseeable future, those who have received double jabs will then according to our classification, and now Britain obviously is a high incidence area, will be able to travel again without having to go into quarantine.’

Mr Johnson, who yesterday said that he believes double jabs will be a ‘liberator’ for international travel, welcomed the decision. 

He said: ‘You will have heard what Chancellor Merkel just said about the German process and where they are on double jabs and I think that is great and that is right.

‘It sounds as though progress is being made.’

Mr Johnson had started the press conference by joking about England’s Euro 2020 victory over Germany. 

Referencing Mrs Merkel’s 22 visits to the UK during her 16 years as Chancellor, the PM said: ‘In the course of that time some things have changed beyond recognition but for much of your tenure it was certainly a tradition, Angela, for England to lose to Germany in international football tournaments.

‘I am obviously grateful to you for breaking with that tradition, just for once.’

Mrs Merkel replied: ‘On football, obviously this was not a voluntary offer on my side in order to create the right climate, the right mood for this visit.

‘But I have to accept it and the result is as it is and that England was happy is obviously something that we understand and we hand it to you and you deserved it.

Today's meeting took place as part of an international swan song for the German Chancellor before she steps down later this year.

Today’s meeting took place as part of an international swan song for the German Chancellor before she steps down later this year.

The pair had a working lunch of English asparagus tart, Oxfordshire beef fillet and baked custard tart before the press conference

The pair had a working lunch of English asparagus tart, Oxfordshire beef fillet and baked custard tart before the press conference

Angela Merkel expresses ‘grave concern’ over number of fans attending Euro 2020 games at Wembley Stadium

Angela Merkel today expressed her ‘grave concern’ at the number of football fans allowed to attend Euro 2020 games at Wembley Stadium.

The German Chancellor said far fewer people had been permitted to watch tournament games hosted in Munich and she believes the UK Government‘s approach is ‘a bit too much’. 

But Boris Johnson insisted the games at Wembley are going ahead in a ‘very careful and controlled manner’ as he rejected calls to reduce fan numbers. 

Almost 42,000 fans attended Wembley for last Tuesday’s last-16 match between Germany and England. 

More than 60,000 will be allowed to attend the semi-finals and the final of the tournament at the stadium in west London.  

The UK Government has faced pressure in recent days over the number of fans permitted to attend after it emerged hundreds of coronavirus cases were linked to Scotland fans travelling to London for the England versus Scotland game on June 18.

Speaking at press conference at Chequers alongside Mr Johnson, Mrs Merkel was asked whether she believed the Government should reduce the crowd size. 

Mrs Merkel said: ‘I can only say this on my behalf that I see this with grave concern. I have also said this to the Prime Minister.

‘We in Germany, as you know, decided to have less people attend games in the Munich stadium.

‘But the British Government obviously will take its own decision but I am very much concerned whether it is not a bit too much, yes.’

 But Mr Johnson hit back and said: ‘Of course we will follow the scientific guidance, the advice if we receive any such suggestion.

‘But at the moment… the position is very clear in the UK which is that we have certain events which we can put on in a very careful and controlled manner with testing of everybody who goes there.

‘And the crucial point is that here in the UK we have now built up a very considerable wall of immunity against the disease by our vaccination programme.’ 

‘We were a little bit saddened, I must admit that, but now the best of luck to your team for all of the matches that still follow.’ 

The PM welcomed Mrs Merkel to his country residence in Buckinghamshire at lunchtime as they greeted each other with attempted fist and elbow bumps.  

The meeting took place as an international swan song for the German Chancellor before she steps down later this year. 

Mrs Merkel addressed a virtual meeting of the UK Cabinet, the first foreign leader to do so since Bill Clinton in 1997.

The pair had a working lunch of English asparagus tart, Oxfordshire beef fillet and baked custard tart before the press conference.  

Ahead of the visit, Mr Johnson announced the creation of a new academic medal in the German Chancellor’s honour.

Downing Street said an award of £10,000 will be given each year to a British or German woman in science – an area the German Chancellor previously worked in. 

It will be named after Caroline Herschel, a German-born British astrophysicist who was a pioneer in the field, with the first medal expected to be awarded in early 2022.

The leaders announced annual joint meetings of the UK and German cabinets, starting from next year, as well as an intention to increase future funding to a bilateral programme for young people in both countries. 

Mrs Merkel and Mr Johnson, who met at the G7 summit in Cornwall last month, also discussed post-Brexit relations between the two countries as well as between Britain and Brussels. 

But the row over travel restrictions was top of the agenda. 

The UK is planning to lift quarantine requirements for amber list travel for the fully vaccinated in the near future and is pushing for EU nations to do the same. 

Mr Johnson said yesterday that he believes double jabs can be a ‘liberator’ for summer holidays. 

Speaking during a visit to a Nissan car manufacturing plant in Sunderland, he said: ‘Everybody who is frustrated about travel over the summer – double jabs will be a liberator.

‘I want travel to be possible but I’ve got to stress that this year will not be like every other year because of the difficulties with Covid. People shouldn’t expect it will be completely hassle free.’

Tony Blair had yesterday urged Mr Johnson to challenge Mrs Merkel over Germany’s current travel rules as he said it ‘makes no sense’ to force fully vaccinated people to quarantine. 

The former PM said: ‘We continue to believe that those who are doubly vaccinated should be treated differently from those who are unvaccinated. 

Mrs Merkel addressed a virtual meeting of the UK Cabinet, the first foreign leader to do so since Bill Clinton in 1997, while the two leaders are set to discuss relations between London and Berlin

Mrs Merkel addressed a virtual meeting of the UK Cabinet, the first foreign leader to do so since Bill Clinton in 1997, while the two leaders are set to discuss relations between London and Berlin

Ahead of the visit, Mr Johnson announced the creation of a new academic medal in the German Chancellor’s honour.

Ahead of the visit, Mr Johnson announced the creation of a new academic medal in the German Chancellor’s honour.

It will be named after Caroline Herschel, a German-born British astrophysicist who was a pioneer in the field, with the first medal expected to be awarded in early 2022

It will be named after Caroline Herschel, a German-born British astrophysicist who was a pioneer in the field, with the first medal expected to be awarded in early 2022

UK travellers are currently subject to a wide array of different border rules in European countries. Mrs Merkel has called for the EU to adopt a single hardline policy

UK travellers are currently subject to a wide array of different border rules in European countries. Mrs Merkel has called for the EU to adopt a single hardline policy

‘The data is clear: they’re less likely to get the virus, less likely to transmit it and much less likely to be severely sick. 

‘Germany’s attempt to block UK travellers to Europe even if vaccinated on the basis of the prevalence of the Delta variant, makes no sense when we know the variant is already in Europe and will become the dominant strain there also; and when the UK, because it does so much more genomic sequencing, has a better handle on the prevalence of the variant, but is not necessarily a greater risk.’ 

Mr Blair’s institute recommended in a new policy paper that the EU, including Germany, should base travel restrictions on individual vaccine status rather the prevalence of variants in the traveller’s home country.    

It also called for the UK to play a ‘proactive role in the creation of a European-wide Covid Pass that removes restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers, and this should be introduced now’.       

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