LONDON: Fully vaccinated travellers from the US and European Union (EU) countries will be able to avoid a 10-day compulsory quarantine when they arrive in England from next Monday, the UK government said on Wednesday.
Currently, only people who received their COVID-19 vaccine in the UK can avoid quarantine when arriving from these “amber list” countries under the government’s traffic list travel system.
“We’ve taken great strides on our journey to reopen international travel and today is another important step forward. Whether you are a family reuniting for the first time since the start of the pandemic or a business benefiting from increased trade – this is progress we can all enjoy,” said UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
“We will of course continue to be guided by the latest scientific data but thanks to our world-leading domestic vaccination programme, we’re able to look to the future and start to rebuild key transatlantic routes with the US while further cementing ties with our European neighbours,” he said.
India remains on the red list under the international traffic system, which bans travel and imposes a compulsory 10-day hotel quarantine for returning British residents.
The next review of that status is expected by the middle of next week.
However, with the Delta variant – first detected in India – continuing to be the dominant variant in the UK, India’s status on the travel advisory remains uncertain.
Meanwhile, from 4 am local time on August 2, passengers who are fully vaccinated in the EU with vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or in the US with vaccines authorised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or in the Swiss vaccination programme, will be able to travel to England without having to quarantine or take a Day 8 COVID test on arrival.
These amber list arrivals who have been fully vaccinated in the US and EU countries will still be required to complete a pre-departure test before arrival into England, alongside a PCR test on or before Day 2 after arrival.
France continues to remain outside this ambit amid a surge in Beta variant cases in the country.
“Our vaccination programme is building a wall of defence against this virus so we can safely enjoy our freedoms again, with 7 in 10 adults in the UK now double jabbed,” said UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
“By reopening quarantine-free travel for travellers who have been fully vaccinated in European countries and the US, we’re taking another step on the road to normality which will reunite friends and families and give UK businesses a boost,” he said.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) welcomed the update on international travel rules, which the airline industry has been lobbying for.
“Restriction-free international travel will be a vital piece of the recovery jigsaw, and ending quarantine requirements for fully-vaccinated arrivals from the US and EU is a huge step towards that goal,” said Tom Thackray, CBI Director of Infrastructure.
“The news will come as a significant boost to the beleaguered travel industry, while also restoring important business links with key trading partners.
The task now is to implement these changes as rapidly and smoothly as possible, which should include an efficient pre-travel system of assessing passengers’ COVID-status to prevent congestion at airports,” he said.
Following the monitoring of epidemiological evidence, the UK government also confirmed the go ahead for international cruise sailings to restart from England in line with Public Health England (PHE) guidance.
Other parts of United Kingdom will confirm their own travel norms based on the updates.