Families reunite as double jabbed US and EU travellers arrive in UK free from quarantine

2 August 2021, 16:03 | Updated: 2 August 2021, 19:08

Michelle Bolger with her sons Taran and Kaie alongside her sister Elaine Burt at Glasgow Airport
Michelle Bolger with her sons Taran and Kaie alongside her sister Elaine Burt at Glasgow Airport. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

There were emotional scenes at airports across the country today as the UK opened up to double vaccinated travellers from the US and EU - with families reuniting without having to quarantine.

Travel rules were eased from 4am this morning, meaning double jabbed travellers can now visit England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland without having to isolate for 10 days.

Prior to the change, only travellers who received both doses of the vaccine in the UK were able to enter from an amber list country.

The revised rules do not apply to those coming from France, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Andorra or Vatican City.

For many people it was the first time they were able to hug their loved one since the pandemic began.

Read more: New travel rules for fully jabbed US and EU arrivals begin

Read more: Covid-19: What are the latest changes to the travel rules?

Elaine Burt, 55, a senior nurse with the NHS, shared an emotional embrace with her family at Glasgow Airport after 20 months apart.

Ms Burt said it was the "best present ever" after the rule changes mean her family will not have to quarantine for 10 days.

Her sister Michelle Bolger, 50, and her nephews Kaie, 17, and Taran, 12, were all double vaccinated in the US and travelled to Scotland from Boston, via Amsterdam.

Mrs Bolger said: "It's been so long ... it's been really hard, but we're here, we made it", as she arrived in the country to visit her mother Jean, who has been unwell.

She described the process of attempting to come home as a "rollercoaster", and said she didn't think she would see the day.

"We've done everything by the book just to get here and we're just excited," added Mrs Bolger.

Ms Burt, from Newton Mearns, said after the reunion: "It was an absolute relief, it just felt as if it was never going to happen and it's just the best present ever.

"We never thought it was going to happen with all of the different restrictions, but we left it to the last minute to see what was possible."

The Scottish Government made the decision public last week just hours after UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the relaxation of measures for England.

All travellers arriving in the UK will still have to take a pre-departure test, as well as another on or before day two of their arrival - but under the new rules will not be required to isolate.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK economy and society "is just about the most open in Europe" as a result of the vaccine rollout but caution was still needed around travel.

He told reporters at Airbus in Stevenage: "On travel, we have had to balance it because of the anxiety that I think a lot of people have - I have - about importing new variants, bringing back the disease.

"We also have to recognise that people want, badly, to go on their summer holidays, we need to get the travel industry moving again, we need to get our city centres open again and so we want an approach that is as simple as we can possibly make it."

There were proposals at Gatwick airport this morning and countless emotional reunions after months apart.

Colin Morton, 56, was another person enjoying isolation-free travel at Glasgow Airport this morning.

The engineer, who moved to Italy in his mid-20s and had both his vaccinations in Italy, said he had returned to Scotland to visit his mother, who has been unwell.

He said: "My mother and father live here and they are both elderly and my mother has been unwell, so I'm looking forward to being able to see her.

"There would have been no point coming if I had to quarantine."

It comes as reports have suggested ministers are concerned over the proposal of an 'amber watchlist', which could be introduced in the next travel review.

The watchlist would mean countries could be put onto the red list at short notice, putting travel plans in jeopardy.

The next travel review is expected to take place this week.