London: Fully vaccinated travellers entering England will soon be exempt from any COVID test requirements, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed Monday.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to a hospital in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, Johnson said the daily Omicron variant data is getting better and it was time for the country to be more open for travellers. Over the weekend, the UK recorded 74,799 cases and 75 COVID deaths.
“Although we have to be cautious, we are now moving through the Omicron wave, and you can see the figures are starting to get better,” Johnson said.
“So what we’re doing on travel, 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,” he said.
Fully vaccinated travellers currently need to do a lateral flow or PCR test within two days of arriving in England after a pre-arrival test requirement was done away with earlier this week. The devolved regions of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland usually adopt similar rules on travel.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to make a statement in the House of Commons outlining the COVID travel update, when the exact time-frame for the rule changes is likely to be confirmed.
The move will be welcomed by the travel and tourism industry, one of the sectors most badly affected worldwide by coronavirus lockdown measures. There had been widespread calls for the government to abandon the burden of tests for those who have had at least two doses of a COVID vaccine.
The government has indicated that the third booster dose is also likely to be added on to the so-called COVID vaccine pass to qualify as fully vaccinated, some time in the future.
Under current rules, travellers who are not fully vaccinated must take a pre-departure test and two post-arrival PCR tests, which are more expensive than the lateral flow version. They must also self-isolate for 10 days.
From Thursday, England’s stricter Plan B restrictions come to an end, which means COVID passes for entry to larger venues and the mandatory wearing of face masks will be scrapped and people are no longer being told to work from home. It follows an announcement in Parliament last week confirming that the Omicron wave has most likely peaked in the country.