Quarantine dropped for US and EU travel to UK
Queuing may be eased at airports
Travellers from the EU and US who are fully-vaccinated will no longer need to quarantine on arrival in the UK after ministers today agreed to drop the self-isolation rules affecting these territories.
The change will come into force at 4am on Monday, though all incomers will still need to be tested in a bid to minimise the risk that they are infected.
The Scottish Government confirmed that it would follow the change announced earlier for England. The easing also removes the need for a PCR test on day eight after arrival and is a major relaxation of travel restrictions that were imposed to protect wider public health.
All travellers will still be required to produce a negative test prior to departure and a negative PCR test on day two after arrival.
Travel and tourism businesses say it is the right decision as coronavirus cases fall for a seventh day running.
Joss Croft, CEO, of travel sector group UKinbound, said: “Today’s announcement that quarantine will be removed for vaccinated US and EU visitors to England is a fantastic step forward that will allow the £28 billion inbound tourism sector, which supports over 500,000 jobs across the UK, to finally restart.
“However, businesses that are reliant on international visitors still face substantial barriers to recovery, having had virtually no business since March 2020. Even with reciprocity, the valuable 2021 summer season is all but lost for inbound tourism, meaning thousands of businesses and jobs will continue to be at risk over winter.
“There is a real fear that Government will view today as job done, the industry can trade again and therefore no further support is required. This simply is not the case.
“There are still significant restrictions at our borders, constraining businesses’ ability to trade. This leaves our sector in desperate need of targeted support, to ensure businesses and skilled jobs survive into 2022, when this industry will be able to significantly aid the country’s economic recovery.”
Tom Thackray, CBI director of infrastructure, said: “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.
“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.”
Under the proposals, airlines will be expected to approve passengers’ vaccine status before check-in for England-bound flights, to prevent huge queues at passport control.
A trial was carried out by Heathrow, BA and Virgin which found they could overcome 99% of the difficulties in verifying the vaccination status of travellers from the US.
There is increasing confidence that France will be downgraded to ‘amber’ when the categories are reviewed next week, and that Germany and Austria could go green.
However, there was the probability that new restrictions could be placed on Spain, causing thousands of Britons to self-isolate on their return home.
Labour has branded the UK government’s approach ‘reckless’, warning it risks importing more variants.