The prime minister has confirmed that the requirement for Covid-19 tests for fully vaccinated international travellers arriving in England will be removed.
Boris Johnson updated broadcasters on the policy change, which has been widely expected, today.
In media rounds, he said: “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.”
Transport secretary Grant Shapps is to make a statement in the House of Commons outlining the rule changes this afternoon.
It comes as the chief executives of the UK’s largest airlines urged the government to end all Covid-19 related travel restrictions.
Domestic restrictions, such as Covid passports and the mandatory wearing of face masks, are being scrapped in England from Thursday – and people are no longer being told to work from home.
Travel Weekly has reported industry sources close to talks with government expected the requirement for day two Covid tests to be removed, and have turned their attention to the validity of Covid certification for travel, and for a plan to deal with future variants of concern.
The further easing of testing for international arrivals follows the government’s decision earlier this month to remove the requirement for pre-departure testing before travel to the UK, and reduce the testing requirement from a PCR test to allowing rapid lateral flow tests – provided travellers are fully vaccinated. These changes were also adopted by the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The devolved governments are yet to confirm whether the latest easing of restrictions for travel will be extended to their respective nations.
Henry Smith MP, chair of All Party Parliamentary Group for the Future of Aviation said: “The government must go further and work with industry to agree and implement a long-term plan which can help these vital industries begin their road to recovery.
“The economic impacts of international travel restrictions have been significant and ensuring we have a thriving aviation and travel sector again will be vital to our national economic recovery and the government must put the sector specific support in place to allow this to begin without further delay.”
Ian Bell, head of travel and tourism at auditing firm RSM, said the confirmation of the testing changes “will give the green light to book international travel”. “It is hoped that the new rules will give the whole sector a much-needed boost to maximise pent up demand,” he said.
But he noted: “Consumers will still have to consider the specific Covid rules for their destination” and called for “clarity and consistency of messaging” from government moving forward because “the constant changes to travel restrictions throughout the pandemic has hampered consumer confidence”.
He said this “presents an opportunity for travel agents to demonstrate the value of their knowledge; but ultimately returning to England has just been made much easier”.