Half-term holiday boost as tests for jabbed travellers returning to England will be axed

24 January 2022, 15:47 | Updated: 24 January 2022, 21:52

The requirement to test before departure to UK countries has already been scrapped
The requirement to test before departure to UK countries has already been scrapped. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Fully vaccinated travellers arriving in England will no longer have to take a coronavirus test, it has been announced.

The tests will be scrapped from 4am on February 11, before half-term, in a boost for families planning trips overseas.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the changes "show that this country is open for business, open for travellers".

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps later told the House of Commons: "All fully vaccinated people will have to do... is to verify their status via a passenger locator form."

He said it would not only make "travel much easier" but also save "about £100 per family".

The requirement to test before departure had already been scrapped earlier this month.

Mr Shapps also announced passengers who are not fully vaccinated will no longer have to do a PCR test on day eight after their arrival, and will no longer have to self-isolate.

It is a major boost for the travel industry, with Airlines UK calling it a "landmark day".

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Today's announcement only applies to England, but the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have recently implemented Westminster's changes to international travel rules.

Fully vaccinated arrivals must currently pre-book and take a post-arrival test from a private supplier. This can be a lateral flow test, which typically costs around £19.

Arrivals who are not fully vaccinated must currently take a pre-departure test and two post-arrival PCR tests, which are more expensive than the lateral flow version.

They must also self-isolate for 10 days.

The decision to ease travel rules follows growing pressure from the sector, which claims restrictions are ineffective.

EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren welcomed the update, saying "millions of our customers" will be "delighted to see the return of restriction-free travel in the UK".

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He added: "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."

He added the airline intends to return to "near-2019 levels of flying this summer".

Airlines UK boss Tim Alderslade said: "This is a landmark day for passengers, businesses and UK plc.

"Nearly two years since the initial Covid restrictions were introduced, today's announcement brings international travel towards near-normality for the fully vaccinated, and at last into line with hospitality and the domestic economy."

Christophe Mathieu, chief executive of Brittany Ferries, said bookings for spring and summer holidays were already "roaring ahead" but the announcement means "we can expect demand to soar for the February half-term".

Abby Penlington, director at ferry trade association Discover Ferries, said the announcement will make travelling "easier, cheaper and will be a further boost to consumer confidence".