The UK government on Thursday removed the requirement of compulsory 10-day self-isolation for international travellers who are fully vaccinated and returning from a country classified as medium COVID-19 risk from July 19. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps effectively scrapped the middle category of England's traffic light system of low as green, medium as amber and high as red, which currently applies to India. Making a statement on international travel in the House of Commons, the minister said those who have received two jabs and those aged under 18 will no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days after their return to Britain but will still have to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on their second day back.
"I can confirm today that from 19 July, UK residents who are fully vaccinated through the UK vaccine rollout will no longer have to self-isolate when they return to England," said Shapps. They will still be required to take a test three days before returning, the pre-departure test, demonstrating they're negative before they travel, and a PCR test on or before day two, but they will no longer be required to take a day eight test. In essence, this means that for fully vaccinated travellers, the requirements for green and amber list countries are the same," he said.
Shapps also confirmed the government's guidance that people should not travel to amber list countries will be lifted from July 19, the date set for an expected end to all lockdown restrictions in the UK. He also clarified that fully vaccinated means "14 days have passed since your final dose of the vaccine", and that the rules may differ across the different nations of the United Kingdom as health matters are devolved subjects for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. But by and large all regions tend to follow a similar pattern of restrictions. The change, which takes place in less than two week's time, will open up Europe's top holiday destinations including France, Spain, Portugal and Italy to many hopeful holidaymakers. Arrivals from red list countries such as India will continue to be required to quarantine for 10 days in a government-approved hotel.
The UK's business and industry groups welcomed the partial easing of travel conditions and called for further measures. The end of quarantine for fully vaccinated journeys between amber list countries is hugely welcome news for the international travel sector, which has suffered more than most during the pandemic. It is now imperative that business and government work together to rebuild confidence and restore demand as we establish new travel norms while living with the virus, said Matthew Fell, Chief UK Policy Director for the Confederation of British Industry.
For operators, clear guidance on how new rules will work are essential to enable the sector to salvage part of the summer season. A truly risk-based approach to the government's traffic light system with the aim of adding to the green list countries as soon as possible, alongside reducing passenger testing requirements and greater transparency, will also be crucial if the sector is to bounce back and support the UK's wider economic recovery, he said. The coronavirus has so far killed 128,565 people, along with 5,007,964 confirmed infections, in the UK, according to Johns Hopkins University.