Travelers wishing to visit England and Scotland will no longer have to take Covid-19 tests prior to travel if they have completed a full cycle of vaccination, the British department for transport said on Monday.
Additionally, unvaccinated travelers will not be required to take a day eight test or self-isolate but will still need pre-departure and Day 2 tests.
The new measures go into effect at 4am on February 11.
British authorities decided to ease pandemic restraints ahead of half-term break in efforts to make family travel cheaper and at the same time support the impacted travel sector.
– all testing requirements will be removed for eligible fully vaccinated arrivals
– all travelers to England and Scotland must fill in a Passenger Locator Form (PLF)
– travelers who are not fully vaccinated will need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before Day 2 after their arrival and fill in a PLF form. They will not need to self-isolate on arrival. Quarantine is necessary only if they are found to be positive to coronavirus.
“Today I can confirm that our international travel regime will now be liberalized as part our efforts to ensure that 2022 is the year in which restrictions on travel, on lockdowns and limits on people’s lives are firmly placed in the past,” said UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
British authorities said the framework is intended “to last” and aims to provide “stability for travelers and the travel industry throughout 2022, ensuring the UK remains one of the best places in the world to do business”.
“We already have one of the most open economies in Europe with the least restrictions, and because of the changes today we now have a travel sector to match it,” said Shapps, adding that this was the “final step in our stable and safe full return to international travel is a major boost for UK tourism, setting Britain free ahead of the crucial half term and spring holiday season”.
The travel and tourism industry welcomed the announcement.
WTTC President & CEO Julia Simpson said the decision would after a grueling 18 months for the UK travel and tourism sector, provide a massive boost to businesses up and down the country.
“We hope it will also see the end of the unnecessary passenger locator forms,” she said.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK said it was a “landmark day for passengers, businesses and UK plc… bringing international travel towards near-normality for the fully vaccinated, and at last into line with hospitality and the domestic economy. It will offer further reassurance to those planning to travel, both overseas and into the UK”.
“The removal of all testing for vaccinated passengers is the final step in moving towards frictionless air travel, allowing passengers to reconnect with loved ones and business colleagues. It restores customer confidence and demand will be boosted in a critical booking window for the travel industry,” said Virgin Atlantic.
“It is clear travel restrictions did not materially slow the spread of Omicron in the UK and so it is important that there are no more knee jerk reactions to future variants,” said Chief Executive easyJet, Johan Lundgren.
Earlier this month, the UK government lifted pre-departure Covid-19 testing or self-isolation requirements for fully vaccinated travelers and under 18s, requiring only post-arrival tests.