Fully vaccinated travellers entering England will no longer need to book Covid tests, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday. The changes will kick in from 4am on Friday 11 February and in time for the half term break.

Currently, fully vaccinated travellers must pre-book a Covid test from a private supplier, which can be a lateral flow test, and take it at most two days after arriving in the country.

In a statement in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, after a meeting of the Cabinet’s Covid-19 operations committee, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that “after months of pre-departure testing, post-arrival testing, self-isolation, additional expense, all that fully vaccinated people will now have to do, when they travel to the UK, is to verify their status via a passenger locator form.”

He said “fully vaccinated” means two doses of an approved vaccination or one dose of a Janssen vaccine.

The transport secretary also said that “passengers who do not qualify as fully vaccinated will no longer be required to do a day eight test after arrival, or indeed to self-isolate. They will still need to fill out a passenger locator form to demonstrate proof of a negative Covid test taken two days before they travel and they must still take a post-arrival PCR test.”

It comes after the chief executives of the UK’s largest airlines urged the government to end coronavirus-related travel restrictions. The bosses pointed to evidence that the Omicron variant is in retreat, and argued that current measures have a “limited effect” in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren welcomed the news, saying he believes “testing for travel should now firmly become a thing of the past.”

He said “millions of our customers” will be “delighted to see the return of restriction-free travel in the UK.”

He added: “It is clear travel restrictions did not materially slow the spread of Omicron in the UK and so it is important that there are no more knee jerk reactions to future variants.”

He said the EasyJet intends to return to “near-2019 levels of flying this summer.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also stressed the importance of people getting a booster jab if they want to travel abroad this summer.

“I think it’s very important everybody in the country understands that getting your booster, wherever you want to go in the world, getting your booster is going to be a pretty crucial thing to do.”

The PM’s official spokesman added, “Our expectation is that the vast majority of countries in the world will expect people to be boosted for entry into their country and so it’s vitally important that everyone understands that if you do want to travel this summer, you almost certainly will need to have been boosted.”

 

 

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