The British government plans to remove the last remaining pandemic era travel rules from 4 am on Friday in what has been described as a “landmark moment” for both passengers and the aviation sector. The news came on the same day as British Airways and Heathrow International Airport (LHR) also announced they would ditch face mask rules from Wednesday.
“The UK is leading the world in removing all remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions, and today’s announcement is a testament to the hard work everyone in this country has put in place to roll out the vaccine and protect each other,” commented Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Monday.
“I said we wouldn’t keep travel measures in place for any longer than necessary, which we’re delivering on today – providing more welcome news and greater freedom for travellers ahead of the Easter holidays.”
Britain had already rolled back most pandemic related travel rules but travellers were still expected to complete a cumbersome online passenger locator form and there were additional rules for unvaccinated passengers including pre-departure and post-arrival testing.
The requirement to complete the passenger locator form is being ditched, while no passengers, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to take a COVID-19 test for travel from Friday morning.
Shapps said travel restrictions would be kept in “reserve” and contingency measures could be implemented at a moment’s notice should a new variant crop up.
“In future, the government’s default approach will be to use the least stringent measures, if appropriate, to minimise the impact on travel as far as possible,” a statement from the Department for Transport attempted to reassure.
The UK started off the pandemic with some of the less stringent travel restrictions in the world but eventually required inbound passengers to complete a period of self-isolation. In late 2021, the government made it illegal for most Britons to travel abroad and forced people arriving from so-called ‘Red List’ countries to go into hotel quarantine.
Those measures were gradually rolled back as the country’s vaccination programme was rolled out and the bulk of the rules were binned in January.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK which represents the likes of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, hailed the ending of travel restrictions, saying it sent. a”clear message to the world”.
“With travellers returning to the UK no longer burdened by unnecessary forms and testing requirements, we can now look forward to the return to pre-COVID normality throughout the travel experience,” Alderslade continued.
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.
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