Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on January 24, that from 4 am on Friday, February 11, all testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers will come to an end. This will include the post-arrival day 2 test that previously, anyone arriving from Europe had to pay for.
Mr Johnson said “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.
“So what we’re doing on travel is to show this country is open for business, people arriving no longer have to take tests if they’ve been double vaccinated.”
The requirement for pre-departure tests for fully vaccinated arrivals to the UK had already been scrapped.
However, for those who are considered to be unvaccinated, it is still compulsory to purchase a Day-2 test from a private company, which is taken on or before the second day of your stay in the UK.
The current rules state that the Day-2 test can be an antigen test, instead of the higher-priced PCR test, plus visitors are not required to isolate whilst waiting for the results. Also, a booking reference number for a test is needed to fill in the Passenger Locator Form (PLF), which all UK arrivals must produce before their journey.
Travellers to the UK will still be required to present the Passenger Locator Form but can upload proof of their vaccination status, travel history and contact details instead of a booking reference.
The UK does not currently require a booster vaccine in order to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’.
The official UK government website states that "arrivals who are not recognised as fully vaccinated will only need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before day 2 after they arrive in the UK".
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid has said that the changes, which will be in place just before the February half-term holidays, mark a “new chapter” in the fight against Covid-19.
“We have entered a new chapter in our fight against Covid-19 and we’re taking a balanced approach as we learn to live with the virus,” claimed Mr Javid.
In addition to this change, from February 3, children aged between 12 and 15 years in England will be able to use a digital NHS Covid Pass, in order to prove their vaccination status or proof of prior infection for all outbound travel.
For all inward travel, children under the age of 18, will continue to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’, regardless of their individual vaccination status.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who confirmed the new rules on his Twitter feed, said “We made the right calls at the right time and thanks to our vaccine and booster rollout it’s paying off, allowing us to safely remove nearly all Covid-19 travel restrictions for vaccinated travellers.
“We already have one of the most open economies in Europe with the least restrictions, and because of the changes today we now have a travel sector to match it. This final step in our stable and safe full return to international travel is a major boost for UK tourism, setting Britain free ahead of the crucial half term and spring holiday season,” he added.
The UK government said that the new measures will be a boost for the tourism sector, as well as promote business and trade.
“We will be further reconnecting with key global markets, and from 4 am on 11 February, we will recognise vaccine certificates from 16 further countries and territories at the border, including China and Mexico. This will bring the total list to over 180 countries and territories worldwide,” stated Mr Shapps.
Tim Alderslade of Airlines UK said: “This is a landmark day for passengers, businesses and UK plc. Nearly two years since the initial Covid restrictions were introduced, today’s announcement brings international travel towards near-normality for the fully vaccinated, and at last into line with hospitality and the domestic economy. It will offer further reassurance to those planning to travel, both overseas and into the UK, and demonstrates again that following the success of the vaccine programme, the UK can lead the world in our recovery from the pandemic.
“With the all-important half-term week approaching, passengers should now get booking, and airlines look forward to using the connectivity they’re proud to facilitate to turbo-charge the economic recovery for all of the UK.”
And UK Chamber of Shipping Chief Executive Sarah Treseder said: “We are delighted to see the government has eased restrictions, bringing travel back towards near normality for fully-vaccinated people. Millions of passengers enjoy travelling by sea each year and although it will take time for confidence to fully return to normal, this landmark decision will help the tourism and travel sector at a vitally important time for the industry.”