The government of United Kingdom has announced that it will scrap its quarantine requirement for vaccinated travellers from the United States and the European Union (EU). Previously, only vaccines that had been given in the United Kingdom were recognized for inbound travel. The news comes after the government’s announcement earlier this month that fully vaccinated UK travellers returning to England from ‘amber list’ countries would no longer have to quarantine.
Since the start of COVID-19 pandemic, England has been constantly under fire from much of the travel industry and passengers themselves for its stringent travel rules. Now as more and more individuals are becoming fully vaccinated, the country is slowly breaking down its barriers to travel.
Starting 2nd August 2021, 04:00 hours, fully vaccinated travellers from the European Union and the United States will be able to travel quarantine-free to the UK (including Scotland). This means that anybody who is fully vaccinated in the UK, US, or EU will be able to enter the country as if they have come from a low-risk destination (green list).
While only adding vaccines issued in the EU and US still leaves many potential travelers excluded, the move to recognize these vaccines will undoubtedly be welcomed by many.
The United Kingdom presently recognises four vaccines. These are:
- Moderna – two doses
- BioNTech (Pfizer) – two doses
- AstraZeneca – two doses
- Janssen – one dose
One is recognised as fully vaccinated 14 days after their second dose of the relevant vaccine. Travellers will still need to take a rapid test before departure and a RT-PCR test on day 2 after the arrival. They won’t be required to self-isolate during this time.
It’s unclear exactly how the system will work. One might expect that the UK will rely on the EU’s digital vaccine pass to prove vaccination status from EU travellers. But paper certificates would likely continue to be accepted.
Note that for now, arrivals from France will continue to need to quarantine for ten days, due to the number of cases involving the South African ‘Beta’ variant of COVID-19. This restriction is scheduled to be reviewed at the end of next week.
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Reactions from the travel industry
Sean Doyle, Chairman and CEO, British Airways, said:
Our own trials have proved its quick and easy to check travellers are fully vaccinated and can safely enter the UK, and this step will allow us to reunite loved ones and get Global Britain back in business, giving the economy the vital boost it so badly needs. With the UK’s Covid cases falling while vaccinations continue to rise, now is the time for the Government to help secure the re-opening of the crucial UK-US travel corridor, move more low-risk Amber countries to the Green list to allow customers to book with confidence and to review the current expensive testing requirements that are out of step with our neighbours.
Karen Dee, CEO of the UK’s Airport Operators Association said that the move was ‘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’.
Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic, said that the airline ‘stands ready to work with Government to ensure new rules are smoothly implemented at pace, supporting the reopening of the transatlantic corridor’.
Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, said:
The UK allowing double vaccinated travellers to enter from the US and EU without quarantine is very welcome news. This is a vital shot in the arm for the travel industry and places the UK at the forefront of international protocols. The key to success is for other nations to reciprocate and get people travelling safely for business and leisure once more.
The UK government has also confirmed the go ahead for international cruise sailings to restart from England.
Virginia Messina, Senior Vice President and acting CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said:
The Travel and 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. Research shows that before the pandemic US visitors to the UK contributed more than more than £4 billion to the economy in 2019, underlining the importance of transatlantic travel. 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. Harmonisation would restore international mobility, ensure reduced protocols for vaccinated travellers, emphasise the importance of global vaccine recognition, and enable global use of ‘digital health passes’.
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.
What do you think of United Kingdom removing quarantine for travellers arriving from the United States or the European Union? Let me know in the comments section below.