Britain is ‘open for business’, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared after confirming COVID tests for fully vaccinated travellers will be scrapped next month.
Passengers who are double jabbed and arriving in the UK after 4am on 11 February will no longer have to take a Day 2 test in a move met with relief and delight by the industry.
Boris Johnson told Sky News: “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.
“What we’re doing on travel to show this country is open for business, people arriving no longer have to take tests if they’ve been double vaccinated.”
EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said: “We welcome this news knowing that millions of our customers will also be delighted to see the return of restriction free travel in the UK. We now look ahead to what we believe will be a strong summer.
“We believe testing for travel should now firmly become a thing of the past. It is clear travel restrictions did not materially slow the spread of Omicron in the UK and so it is important that there are no more knee jerk reactions to future variants.
“We commend the Government for removing all testing. easyJet plans to return to near 2019 levels of flying this summer and so we can’t wait to welcome our customers back onboard.”
Manchester Airports Group CEO Charlie Cornish said: “This important announcement is excellent news for our sector’s recovery.
“This change will be welcomed by the millions of vaccinated people who are desperate to travel and will now be able to do so – restriction-free – for the first time in more than a year.
Advantage Travel Partnership CEO Julia Lo Bue-Said said: “Consumer confidence is rising incrementally with every relaxation of the rules. Tests have been the bane of the industry.
“We now expect to see a further increase in bookings for the half-term holiday in February, the Easter break and the summer holidays.”
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays CEO Steve Heapy said: “This travel update is a real game-changer for the millions of people who simply want to get away to enjoy their well-deserved holidays. Today’s announcement means vaccinated customers can once again book and travel on the normal, hassle-free holidays that they know and love.”
Blue Bay travel Chief Executive Alistair Rowland called the changes ‘major steps towards bringing the joy back to travel again’.
Flight Centre UK General Manager Liz Matthews said it felt ‘like we’re on the home straight’, adding: “We strongly urge holiday makers to avoid last minute bookings, as pent-up demand is predicted to affect hotel and flight offerings later in the year, as the UK rushes to book holidays.”
UKinbound CEO Joss Croft said is was a ‘huge relief’ but warned: “We can’t be complacent. The UK’s inbound tourism industry has been decimated for almost two years and we are not out of the woods yet.”
World Travel and Tourism Council President and CEO Julia Simpson said: “After a gruelling 18 months for the UK Travel & Tourism sector, this will provide a massive boost to businesses up and down the country.”
Aviation analytics expert Cirium said international flights from the UK this February half-term are up 555% compared to last year, but remain 41% on February half-term 2020.Cirium says 7,868 international flights are scheduled to depart from the UK this February half-term.
Spain, the most popular destination, is expected to welcome 1,338 flights from the UK during the school holiday period.