[UPDATED] UK changes quarantine rules for arrivals

By Luke Barras-hill |

Source: Heathrow.

*Double-vaccinated travellers to England from amber list countries including the US and those in the EU will be exempted from the requirement to quarantine as of 4am on Monday 2 August, the UK government has confirmed.

Arrivals passengers fully vaccinated in Europe (EU member states, European Free Trade Association countries and the European microstate countries of Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City), and the US, plus those in the Swiss vaccination programme, will be exempted from self-isolating for 10 days.

Those that have received two jabs of a vaccine will still be required to complete a pre-departure test before arrival into England, plus a PCR test on or before day two of arrival (separate rules continue to apply to France), while those arrivals from the US will need to provide proof of US residency. A day eight test on arrival will no longer apply.

Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport.

HUGE BOOST TO PHYSICAL GATHERINGS

All travellers need to complete a passenger locator form to enter the UK.

Following heavy speculation earlier today, the BBC, HuffPost and Sky News reported this afternoon (UK time) that the decision had been reached by ministers.

It offers a monumental boost to duty free and travel retail physical events such as the inaugural Travel Retail Consumer Forum that continues to intensify its support.

Previously, travellers that had received two vaccine doses in the UK were exempt from quarantining on return from amber list countries (aside France), but those with vaccinations administered outside the UK were not afforded the same privileges.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “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.

“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.”

International cruise sailings can restart from England in line with Public Health England guidance. Source: P&O Cruises

INTERNATIONAL CRUISE SAILINGS

Health Secretary Sajid Javid hailed the vaccination programme’s ‘wall of defence’, adding seven in 10 adults have now received two vaccination doses.

“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 added.

The government is due to review its measures on international travel on 31 July.

In a statement, the Department for Transport confirmed all measures will be kept under review and guided by the latest data.

In a twin announcement, ministers have given the green light to international cruise sailings to restart from England in line with Public Health England guidelines.

The government and cruise industry have inked a ‘breakthrough’ memorandum of understanding (MOU) to help the industry build back from Covid-19 while protecting British nationals from future pandemic-related disruption.

REACTION POURS IN

Travel and tourism stakeholders have responded following the UK government’s announcement today.

Karen Dee, Chief Executive, Airport Operators Association (AOA) said: “This is a significant and welcome step forward that will be a boost to airports, our inbound visitor economy and the many families who will be able to reunite after a long and difficult period.

“However, there remain considerable challenges for our airports and aviation sector and our road to recovery remains long. We urge the government to work with industry to continue opening up travel by putting more countries on the green list, reduce the cost of testing and provide the much-needed financial support for the difficult months ahead.

“Our airports continue to be hit by the impacts of the pandemic and held back by an overly cautious approach to international travel. Without sector specific financial support our national recovery will be stalled and thousands of jobs put at risk.”

While welcoming the news, London Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said the changes may have come too late for many to make bookings this summer. Source: Gatwick Airport.

Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President and Acting CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council, said: “The travel & tourism sector – and the UK economy – will get a huge boost following news that fully-vaccinated US and EU visitors will at last be able to travel quarantine-free to England.

“The cruise industry will breathe a sigh of relief that the crucial relaunch of international cruise departures from England has been given the green light, giving hope to a sector which has struggled to stay afloat.

“It also throws a vital lifeline to airlines and businesses throughout the sector, by helping to restore much-need transatlantic travel and essential links to the EU. However, unless it’s reciprocal and the US responds with a similar move, we won’t see the full benefit.

“We urgently need internationally coordinated action to reopen borders to safe international travel for all visitors who are fully vaccinated or can show proof of a negative Covid-19 test.”

Stewart Wingate, CEO, Gatwick Airport.

COST OF PCR TESTS ‘PROHIBITIVE’

John Holland-Kaye, CEO, Heathrow Airport said: “The government has made the right decision to safely further reopen international travel. We will now work with colleagues in the industry to boost UK trade, reunite family and friends, and generate billions in new tourist income.”

Stewart Wingate, CEO, Gatwick Airport said: “This is welcome news for those wishing to travel to the UK although the changes may have come too late for many to make bookings this summer.

“The cost of PCR tests remains prohibitive for many and should be replaced by cheaper, quicker lateral flow tests for those who have been double vaccinated, as many other countries already rely on. Double-vaccinated travellers to designated green countries should also not have to take any tests at all.

“The EU and US aviation sectors opened up earlier and are recovering significantly faster, which is why European travel was already at 50% of pre-pandemic levels in June compared to just 16% in the UK, despite our more advanced double vaccination rates.

“We will continue to lose out on trade, tourism and other economic benefits unless the government removes the remaining unnecessary barriers to travel.”

“Travellers also need a stable traffic light list that provides more certainty and plenty of notice of any changes to help restore their confidence to book.”

TRBusiness has reached out to other industry sources for comment and will bring you further updates as necessary.

*Vaccines authorised by the EMA in Europe and FDA in the US. Travellers are required to show their Covid-19 vaccination certification documents to their carrier on departure.

This is an updated version of an earlier story that appeared on TRBusiness.com.

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