International passengers heading to England or Scotland will no longer have to slate in time for COVID-19 tests, if they’ve received two doses of the vaccine, as per a new update by the UK government. This will come into effect on February 11. By Eshita Srinivas
Pandemic measures in the UK, at the moment, include mandates around testing upon arrival for international passengers. However, in a statement in the House of Commons, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that starting 11 February, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer face any testing restrictions. In addition to this, those who haven’t received two doses will only need to take an RT-PCR test within two days of arrival, without having to self isolate or undergo a test on the eighth day of arrival. Only a passenger locator form is now required for both groups.
The new update follows the success of the UK booster programme
Travel changes were long overdue for the UK, where the government had been pressured to let go of the testing requirements for fully vaccinated individuals, which cost families about GBP 100 (INR 10,055) a trip. That, as well as a successful booster campaign and positive data coming in with regards to the Omicron variant, prompted Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take the decision. “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,” he said in a report by the Business Standard. “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 added.
“Today’s announcement that the UK will stop all testing of vaccinated passengers is good news for travelers and will be a much needed boost for the beleaguered #travel and tourism sector.”
— IATA (@IATA) January 24, 2022
Fully vaccinated implies two doses of an approved vaccine, which includes those administered in India, or one dose of a Janssen vaccine. Those who don’t fall under this category will only need to take a pre-departure test before and an RT-PCR test after arrival in England, without having to self isolate through the process or take the day eight test. Thursday onwards, other strict measures will come to an end. COVID-19 passes for entry to larger venues will no longer be needed, nor will the mandate to wear face masks. Employees might also be asked to return to work, reports Tribune.
These new updates have come in after an announcement made in the parliament that Omicron had peaked in the country and is just in time for the half-term break. Commenting on this in a report by the Guardian, Shapps said, “It’s a proportionate system which moves us a step close to normality, while maintaining vital health measures,” He added that the government plans on moving away from “blanket border measures” to “more sophisticated and targeted global surveillance systems”.
Although Wales and Northern Ireland have not yet confirmed whether they will change their testing rules as well, they are expected to follow suit.