Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed that EU and US citizens will be able to avoid quarantine in England from Monday, as long as they’ve been fully vaccinated.
The move follows the introduction on 19 July of quarantine-free travel from amber countries for fully-vaccinated UK citizens.
Mr Shapps announced on Twitter that from 4am on 2 August people vaccinated in Europe and the US coming to England from an amber country won’t need to quarantine. He also announced the ban on international cruises is being lifted.
He said the rule would apply to those who have received both doses of an EMA or FDA-approved vaccine.
Wales and Scotland have since announced they will follow suit.
The official announcement from the Department for Transport said that people who had been vaccinated in ‘many’ (but not ‘all’) European countries could escape quarantine from 2 August.
It didn’t say which countries are excluded from quarantine-free travel, but presumably the list includes France since double-vaccinated UK holidaymakers must self-isolate when returning from France.
The DfT said vaccinated EU and US travellers will still need to take a COVID test before travelling to England and a second COVID test on or before the second day of their visit.
However, they’ll no longer need to take a third test on day eight.
UKinbound CEO Joss Croft described it as ‘a fantastic step forward that will allow the £28 billion inbound tourism sector, which supports over 500,000 jobs across the UK, to finally restart’.
But he said businesses that rely on international visitors still face ‘substantial barriers to recovery’.
At the moment, the US is warning citizens not to travel to the UK due to the threat from COVID, and its borders are closed to UK tourists.
“Even with reciprocity, the valuable 2021 summer season is all but lost for inbound tourism, meaning thousands of businesses and jobs will continue to be at risk over winter,” said Mr Croft.
“There is a real fear that Government will view today as job done, the industry can trade again and therefore no further support is required. This simply is not the case. There are still significant restrictions at our borders, constraining businesses’ ability to trade.
“This leaves our sector in desperate need of targeted support, to ensure businesses and skilled jobs survive into 2022, when this industry will be able to significantly aid the country’s economic recovery.”
Advantage CEO Julia Lo Bue-Said said: “While it remains to be seen if the agreement will be reciprocal and will allow fully vaccinated Brits to travel to the US and EU countries without restrictions, this is good news for the inbound travel market, for Brits living overseas and those vaccinated abroad longing to be reunited with loved ones and of course provides more confidence among consumers to ensure economic and business recovery – particularly for the travel sector, but this policy should have been adopted months ago.
“We would urge the UK Government to ensure this agreement is reciprocated on a mutual basis with the EU and the US to ensure that both the outbound leisure and business travel sectors can begin trading their way to recovery and allow seamless travel for millions of Brits.
“We would also recommend a review for the need of expensive PCR tests for travellers who are fully vaccinated and to examine whether lateral flow tests or antigen tests can be used as a replacement test option such as those being used at large UK events.
“The UK outbound travel trade, travel agents, tour operators and travel management companies have a significant role to play in the UK’s economic growth. Whilst this latest news is another step forward it by no means removes all the barriers and obstacles in the way for travellers.
“The next four weeks are critical for the sector and with consumer confidence at an all-time low the travel trade are ready to help consumers navigate the maze that traveling internationally represents.”
ABTA said ‘the industry is not out of the woods’, despite today’s announcement. “There is more that needs to be done to support travel businesses through to recovery,” said a spokesperson.
“We know the sector is facing a more gradual relaxation of restrictions than the domestic economy, and we need to see a tailored package of support measures to recognise that, including ongoing furlough and income support schemes, full business rates relief, and consideration of tailored grants schemes.
“We also need to see the Government make further progress on making testing more affordable and proportionate, and we need to see more destinations added to the Green list at next week’s review. We are still seeing other countries reopen more quickly than the UK and we need to capitalise on the success of the vaccine rollout by getting our international travel industry moving again.”