LONDON — Travelers from the European Union and the United States who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus will soon be able to avoid quarantine when arriving in England.
Confirming the move after weeks of negotiations, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Wednesday: “We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the U.K.” He said that from 4 a.m. on August 2, people from the U.S. and EU will be able to come to England from an amber country without having to quarantine, “if they’re fully vaxxed.”
Shapps noted that the changes will apply to those fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by U.S. or European regulators, who will still need to do a pre-departure test before coming to England and take a PCR test on the second day after arriving there.
At present, people who have been fully vaccinated in the U.K. do not need to isolate when traveling from countries on the amber list, except from France, but that does not apply to people vaccinated outside the U.K.
The move would address an anomaly which has prevented many from visiting family and friends in the U.K. or taking business trips, and has long been high on the list of priorities for the travel industry.
The exemption will not apply to France, however, which is subject to a 10-day quarantine requirement even for the fully vaccinated.
There is also no sign of an imminent change to the travel ban on visitors to the U.S. from the U.K. and the EU, despite the launch of a task force which was set up to establish a travel corridor.
Earlier this week, the White House said it had no plans to lift COVID-19 travel restrictions for non-Americans, but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told LBC radio on Wednesday that “we’re talking to them the whole time.”
In the same interview, Johnson declined to back his Cabinet colleague Michael Gove’s characterization of those who did not get the vaccine as “selfish,” but named international travel as one of the potential benefits of being jabbed.
He said: “People can obviously see, when you look at things like travel, like mass events, it’s going to be one of those things that will help you, not hinder you.”
Senior Cabinet ministers have been keen to lift some travel restrictions for a while, but others fear it could backfire. The British government was heavily criticized for not putting India on its red list sooner as the U.K. saw the Delta variant spread steadily in May.
The U.K. government also gave the green light for international cruises to resume, signing a memorandum with the cruise industry to help its recovery.
The news was immediately welcomed by business groups and the travel industry. Richard Burge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “So much of the London and U.K. economy benefits from inbound travel, so this is a welcome and safe acceleration along the road to recovery.”
Sean Doyle, British Airways chief executive, said the move “will allow us to reunite loved ones and get global Britain back in business.”