The UK Received its First Arrivals with No COVID-19 Test Requirement
The Department for Transport and the Department of Health and Social Care of the United Kingdom announced the suspension of most travel restrictions for vaccinated people at the end of January. The new norms almost take international travel back to normal and came into effect last Friday, 11 February 2022.
From that day, vaccinated travelers are no longer obliged to take a COVID-19 diagnostic test before or after arrival in the United Kingdom. They are only required to fill out the Passenger Locator Form (PLF), which has also been simplified.
The Passenger Locator Form contains details about the visitor’s travel history and vaccination status, as well as basic contact information. By the end of February, people will have an extra day to fill it out.
“The UK has eased international travel measures for COVID-19 and now has one of the most free-flowing borders in the world – sending a clear message that we are open for business,” said Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps. “As our travel sector rapidly recovers, and we accelerate towards a future where we want travel to remain open for good, these rule changes coming ahead of half-term are good news for families, businesses, and the travel sector.”
Vaccinated families can particularly benefit from the lift of the test requirement because they used to spend about £100 ($135) on this before February 11th. Furthermore, in England, it is now easier to travel and accede to venues with children because from February 3rd, 2022, kids from 12 to 15 years old can demonstrate their vaccination status or recovery from a previous COVID-19 infection through a digital NHS COVID Pass for outbound travel.
“As we learn to live with COVID-19, we are taking a balanced approach to opening international travel and removing all tests for people who have played their part and have been vaccinated,” said Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid, referring to the people who took the booster shot in order to minimize the effects of the Omicron variant on the UK’s public health.
Those who do not have a complete vaccination schedule are still required to take a pre-departure COVID-19 diagnostic test at least 2 days before arrival and another one by day 2 after arrival. What is now different for non-vaccinated travelers is that they will not have to self-isolate in the UK if both of these tests have negative results. This makes it easier (and cheaper) for unvaccinated people to travel to the UK as well.
As specified by the authorities, the goal of the British government is to reopen the travel and tourism sector to international visitors. This is why the UK has also validated vaccination certificates from around 180 countries worldwide, lately including China and Mexico.
British travel agencies are already seeing the difference. They reported an important number of bookings for the February half term and Easter holidays. These are expected to grow even more in the summer.