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UK to allow fully vaccinated travellers from Europe to skip quarantine (but not tests)

The UK government has announced details of how fully vaccinated travellers from countries in Europe to the UK can skip the mandatory 10-day quarantine when arriving in England, Scotland and Wales.

UK to allow fully vaccinated travellers from Europe to skip quarantine (but not tests)
(Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP)

Transport Minister Grant Shapps took to Twitter to announce the move, saying the UK government was “helping to reunite friends and families”. 

“We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK,” he said. The relaxation applies to arrivals in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland was set to consider the quarantine rules on Thursday. 

The relaxation does not affect travellers from France given that the UK recently ranked France as effectively “amber plus”.

“Separate rules will continue to apply for those arriving from France,” the government said.

The UK government had previously relaxed the quarantine rules only for arrivals from amber-level countries who had been vaccinated under the British National Health System.

That caused much anger among Britons living abroad, who complained they were effectively being barred from seeing family at home.

After much speculation in recent days the UK government has finally moved to level the playing field.

Now from 4am on August 2nd any travellers from amber level countries – which includes the majority of European nations –  arriving in Britain who have been fully inoculated with a vaccine recognised by the European Medical Agency or Swiss vaccination programme (Pfizer, Astra Zeneca, Moderna or Johnson &Johnson) can now skip the mandatory 10 day quarantine.

“The UK Government has today (28 July) announced that passengers arriving from amber countries who have been fully vaccinated in Europe (EU Member States, European Free Trade Association countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and the European microstate countries of Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City) and the USA will not have to quarantine when entering England, as part of a range of new measures designed to continue to drive forward the reopening of international travel,” said a statement from London.

However travellers (apart from children under 10) will still need to provide a negative test no more than three days prior to travel and take a PCR test on the second day after arriving in the country (apart from children aged 4 and under).

Passengers from all countries also cannot travel to the UK unless they have completed a Passenger Locator Form. 

One thing that wasn’t immediately clear from the government’s statement is whether the PCR test needed on day 2 after arrival needed to be booked in advance of travel as is currently the case.

The UK does accept lateral flow or antigen tests for pre-travel requirements.

The relaxation for the moment does not apply to travellers from France – whether returning British residents or people living in France – given that the UK ranked France as a so-called “amber plus” country.

That last-minute decision caused much anger and bafflement because the UK government said it was based on the spread of the Beta variant in France – which has in fact been falling and remains less than five percent of all cases.

In recent days there has been speculation the British government will return France to normal amber level but not announcement has yet been made.

What has the reaction been from Britons in Europe?

Many took to Twitter as usual following the UK announcement to express relief at the move but also annoyance that they would still have to take PCR tests in the UK, which can be costly.

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Member comments

  1. As an American living in France who hasn’t seen my daughter in the UK for a year, I’m just plain angry. I have even been vaccinated with the OXFORD AstraZeneca vaccine, and I still can’t travel into the UK without quarantining. Why single out France except for political retribution? As the article states, it is NOT for any health reason, at this point.

        1. For vaccinated individuals the pre travel Covid tests and day 2 tests are a nonsense. Furthermore how is a family supposed to go to the UK when children have to vaccinate. We all know that children under 18 are not being vaccinated.

  2. So what happens if we want to drive back to visit relatives in the UK from Germany, driving through France to get Eurotunnel?🤷‍♀️

    1. You currently still have to quarantine but this is likely to change next Wednesday when/if France moves from amber+ to amber

    2. For anyone who has been in France in the last 10 days… even if you are fully vaccinated.

  3. Have booked flight and puzzled what are the requirements if you are going to the UK for just one night. Ie arrival day is day zero and you are leaving on day one. Am guessing you have to book a day 2 test to get into the country but then ditch it and just return on day one? Although as it implies you can have it anytime post arrival up to day two is one obligated regardless to have a test in the limited window?

  4. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/red-amber-and-green-list-rules-for-entering-england

    “If you will be in England for less than 10 days
    If you’re travelling to England for less than 10 days, you will need to quarantine for the whole of your stay.

    You must still book your day 2 and day 8 travel tests, even if you will no longer be in England on the dates of the tests. You only need to take the tests if you’re still in the country on those dates.”

    My interpretation is that you’d still need to book a day 2 test even if you only plan to stay for 1 day……but you don’t have to take it (?) – stupid.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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