All remaining COVID-19 pandemic related international travel restrictions, including filling in Passenger Locator Forms before arrival and compulsory pre-departure tests for unvaccinated travellers, have been scrapped from Friday, the UK government has announced. The change, which had been announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) earlier, came into effect at 4 am GMT (9:30 IST). The government has said that it will keep a range of contingency measures in reserve, which would enable swift and proportionate action to delay any future harmful variants of COVID-19 entering the country.
“Everything we have worked for, every jab, every test, and the sacrifices made by the whole country means that finally, nearly two years on, we can all travel without bureaucratic restrictions,” said UK Aviation Minister Robert Courts. According to officials, the default approach in future will be to use the least stringent measures, if appropriate, to minimise the impact on travel as far as possible, with contingency measures only being implemented in extreme circumstances.
All remaining compulsory hotel quarantine capacity in place will also be fully released from the end of March. Until now, only vaccinated travellers were exempt from PCR tests, with those unvaccinated required to take a pre-departure test and another test two days after arrival into the UK.
I said we wouldn’t keep travel measures in place for any longer than necessary, which we’re delivering on today providing more welcome news and greater freedom for travellers ahead of the Easter holidays. I look forward to continuing to work with the travel sector and partners around the world to keep international travel moving, said UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, when he made the announcement earlier this week. The Easter break in April is a popular holiday period in the UK and the changes have been timed to help families make travel plans without the need for additional requirements.
It comes as COVID infections in the UK are on the rise but the government says the success of its vaccine rollout programme made it possible to lift all restrictions. We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants and keep a reserve of measures that can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe. We can remove these final restrictions thanks to the incredible success of our vaccination programme, which has seen more than eight out of 10 adults across the UK boosted, said UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
The UK’s travel industry has widely welcomed the changes as much needed support for the struggling industry. The time to return to the skies to enjoy all that makes aviation and international travel great, for families and businesses is now, said Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK.