The British government will rewrite its confusing pandemic-era international travel rules in January 2022 as Prime Minister Boris Johnson rolls back the last of England’s Coronavirus restrictions in favour of championing personal but voluntary responsibility.
Government minister Robert Courts told the Airlines UK conference on Monday that ministers would be “reviewing the policy in January. We’ll be looking to see what we can do at that stage.”
Lawmakers have faced stiff criticism from airlines and industry lobbyists over its tough approach to international travel rules which seemed to be out of step with the country’s libertarian approach to the pandemic.
Last month, Willie Walsh, former chief executive of British Airways and now director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on the UK government to sweep away confusing testing rules.
“In terms of day-to-day life, the UK is far more pragmatic in managing COVID-19 than many other states. But its approach to travel continues to focus on restrictions which cannot be justified based on risk,” Walsh commented.
While much of Europe significantly eased travel restrictions over the summer, the British government effectively stifled a recovery with its often mocked traffic light system, ineffective and expensive hotel quarantine policy and excessive testing policy.
Even when some of those policies started to be rolled back for fully vaccinated travellers, the British government took the controversial decision to not recognise many travellers as fully vaccinated if they had received their jabs in most places apart from the UK.
Most of the myriad of rules have been either shelved, suspended or loosened but barriers to entry are still preventing the UK from benefiting from a full recovery.
At present, most travellers are expected to complete a passenger locator form and pay for a rapid antigen test which has to be taken within two days of arrival. Under the government’s wider plans to kill pandemic restrictions, the burdensome passenger locator form could be scrapped, along with post-arrival tests which can be easily forged.
The government may also seek to streamline the rules and clear up confusion still persists. Last week, transport minister Grant Shapps confirmed that no countries would be added to the UK’s Red List which requires hotel quarantine but left the door open for restrictions to be brought in at a moments notice.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.