Grant Shapps outlines travel changes from February 11th
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From 4am this morning, travel rules for millions of people entering the UK have been overhauled. Major changes mean that costly COVID-19 testing will no longer be required for anyone who has received a full course of vaccination.
However, for anyone who can not provide evidence of being fully vaccinated, testing rules remain in force.
The Department of Transport, in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care, said the move aims to make “international journeys cheaper and easier for passengers ahead of the half-term”.
A statement shared on Gov.uk said: “The relaxation in requirements is thanks to the success of the UK’s vaccine and booster rollout.
“It means that eligible fully vaccinated travellers arriving in the UK no longer need to take any COVID-19 tests – resulting in the UK having one of the most free-flowing borders and open societies in Europe.”
The Department of Transport said it was “determined to make travel cheaper and easier for families” and claims the latest rule change will help the average family save around £100.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The UK has eased international travel measures for COVID-19 and now has one of the most free-flowing borders in the world – sending a clear message that we are open for business.
“As our travel sector rapidly recovers, and we accelerate towards a future where we want travel to remain open for good, these rule changes coming ahead of half-term are good news for families, businesses and the travel sector.”
What are the latest rules for fully vaccinated passengers entering the UK?
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “As we learn to live with COVID-19, we are taking a balanced approach to opening up international travel and removing all tests for people who have played their part and have been vaccinated.”
From today, arrivals who are vaccinated with a full course of an “approved” jab will no longer need to pay for or take COVID-19 tests.
Approved vaccines in the UK include Covaxin, Moderna, Janssen (single dose), Novavax, AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Sinopharm Beijing and Sinovac-CoronaVac.
Gov.uk adds: “The day you have your final dose does not count as one of the 14 days.”
Instead, they will only need to fill out a passenger locator form confirming their vaccination status, travel history and contact details.
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The Government has vowed to have “simplified” the passenger locator form, however, some travel experts have argued the form appears to look the same.
Posting to Twitter on Friday morning, Paul Charles, CEO of the PC Agency said: “The passenger locator form looks strikingly similar to how it’s always been, despite promises to make it simpler from this morning.”
Gov.uk says by the end of February, passengers will be given an extra day to fill out the form before travel.
Although some nations are now requiring booster vaccines to be considered fully vaccinated, the UK Government has not yet introduced this rule.
According to travel firms, the new rules are already having a positive impact on holiday bookings.
Jet2.com and Jet2holidays both reported what they describe as a “booking bonanza”.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2 said: “People want to get away for their well-deserved breaks after so long and that has translated into a surge of bookings which has continued since the Government announced the loosening of travel restrictions at the start of the year. Over the past two years, we have said that demand would come roaring back once travel started to return to normal, and that is very much the case.
“The UK Government has taken meaningful action to get travel back up and running, and it is good to see other countries take the same approach.
“We are very confident that 2022 is the year when international travel gets back to how it looked before the pandemic, and that is fantastic news for everyone.”
What are the latest rules for unvaccinated passengers entering the UK?
For people who have not yet received a full course of vaccination, testing rules remain in place.
Gov.uk explains: “Arrivals who do not qualify as fully vaccinated will only need to take a pre-departure test in the two days before they depart for the UK and a PCR test on or before the end of day two after they arrive in the UK, as well as completing the passenger locator form.
“These passengers will not need to self-isolate on arrival and will only need to do so if they test positive.”
Unvaccinated passengers will also be required to fill out a passenger locator form.
What are the rules for children?
Children under the age of 17 do not have to take any COVID-19 travel tests or quarantine.
They are also not required to show proof of being vaccinated when entering the UK, though the Government reminds people rules are different for outbound travel.
Some destinations require children to be fully vaccinated over a certain age.
UK children aged between 12 and 15 can now demonstrate their vaccination status or proof of prior infection via a digital NHS Covid pass for outbound travel.
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