The British government on Monday announced that it is scrapping COVID-19 travel testing requirements for the vaccinated, news hailed by the travel industry as a big step back to normality.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “to show that this country is open for business, open for travellers, you will see changes so that people arriving no longer have to take tests if they have been vaccinated, if they have been double vaccinated.”
The new rules will come into effect from February 11, said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps coinciding with a midterm holiday break for many school children.
“Border testing of vaccinated travelers has outlived its usefulness,” Shapps said. “Today we are setting Britain free.”
The move has been welcomed by tourism and travel firms as the business have been hampered by pandemic restrictions.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of airline industry body Airlines U.K., said it was “a landmark day.”
“Nearly two years since the initial COVID restrictions were introduced, today’s announcement brings international travel towards near-normality for the fully vaccinated, and at last into line with hospitality and the domestic economy,” he said.
Johan Lundgren, chief executive of budget airline easyJet, said “testing for travel should now firmly become a thing of the past,” as reported by India Today.
“It is clear travel restrictions did not materially slow the spread of omicron in the U.K. and so it is important that there are no more knee-jerk reactions to future variants,” he said.
Currently, travelers who have had at least two vaccine doses must take a rapid coronavirus test within two days of arriving in the U.K. Those who are unvaccinated face stricter testing and quarantine rules.
Testing requirements are being lifted for vaccinated adults and all children under 18. Britain is also easing rules for the unvaccinated, who will have to take coronavirus tests before and after travelling to Britain but will no longer face quarantine.