UK PM confirms testing for vaccinated arrivals to be removed

The UK 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 expected to make a statement in the House of Commons outlining the rule changes.

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 entirely, 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 nations are yet to confirm whether the latest easing of restrictions for travel will be extended.

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “We welcome this news knowing that millions of our customers will also be delighted to see the return of restriction free travel in the UK. We now look ahead to what we believe will be a strong summer.

“We believe testing for travel should now firmly become a thing of the past. 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.

“We commend the government for removing all testing. EasyJet plans to return to near 2019 levels of flying this summer and so we can’t wait to welcome our customers back onboard.”

Balpa general secretary Martin Chalk said: “It is important now that government confirms the permanent end of travel restrictions.”

“Public confidence in travel is low, and we cannot have a repeat of rapidly and regularly changing rules, confusing and scaring the public into not travelling.

“Our world class aviation sector cannot survive any longer without a clear way out of this crisis.”

Chalk reiterated calls for the Prime Minister to sign up to Balpa’s suggestion of an Aviation Recovery Plan.

“We urge the government to use our expertise and listen to industry voices as it shapes the supportive environment for our collective future,” he said. “To fail to support UK aviation would be unconscionable and will slam the brakes on the long-term national recovery before it has even begun. The time for action is now.”

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.”

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