People fully vaccinated in the United States and European Union — except France — will be allowed to travel to England without having to quarantine on arrival, the UK government announced on Wednesday.
“We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted.
The policy will come into force from 4:00 am (0300 GMT) on August 2.
Travellers fully jabbed with a vaccine approved by the US Food and Drug Administration or the European Medicines Agency will be able to travel from any country on the British government’s “amber” traffic light list without having to self-isolate at home for 10 days.
They will still need to do a pre-departure test and take another test on day two after arriving in England.
Separate rules will continue to apply for those arriving from France due to the government’s concern over the “persistent presence” of the Beta variant, which is believed to be more resistant to vaccines.
Those travelling from an amber list country, which includes most of Europe and the US, who are not fully vaccinated will still have to quarantine on arrival.
“By reopening quarantine-free travel for travellers who have been fully vaccinated in European countries and the USA, we’re taking another step on the road to normality which will reunite friends and families and give UK businesses a boost,” Health Secretary Sajid Javid said.
The government also confirmed the restart of international cruises.
“This is progress we can all enjoy,” wrote Shapps.
Britain is in the midst of another wave of the virus due to the Delta variant, although case numbers have dropped over the past week, while its vaccine drive has seen more than 70 percent of adults fully jabbed.
The devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own health policies, and decide their own foreign travel rules, but are consulting with London over a UK-wide policy.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) welcomed Wednesday’s announcement.
“Restriction-free international travel will be a vital piece of the recovery jigsaw, and ending quarantine requirements for fully-vaccinated arrivals from the US and EU is a huge step towards that goal,” said Tom Thackray, CBI director of infrastructure.
“The news will come as a significant boost to the beleaguered travel industry.”
Airline Virgin Atlantic said it was “ready to work with government to ensure new rules are smoothly implemented”.
“We now urge UK government to go further and move the US to the UK’s ‘green list’,” said Virgin’s chief executive Shai Weiss.
“The UK is already falling behind US and EU and a continued overly cautious approach towards international travel will further impact economic recovery and the 500,000 UK jobs that are at stake,” he warned.
However, the US administration continues to bar most inbound travel by non-residents and has warned against travel to the UK specifically, owing to the Delta variant.