UK: Boris Johnson lifts travel test requirements for fully vaccinated travellers
Britain is also easing rules for the unvaccinated, who will have to take coronavirus tests before and after travelling to Britain but will no longer face quarantine
London: The British government announced Monday that it is scrapping coronavirus testing requirements for vaccinated people arriving in England, news hailed by the travel industry as a big step back to normality.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that "to show that this country is open for business, open for travellers, you will see changes so that people arriving no longer have to take tests if they have been vaccinated if they have been double vaccinated."
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the change would take effect 11 February coinciding with a midterm holiday break for many schoolchildren.
"Border testing of vaccinated travelers has outlived its usefulness," Shapps said. "Today we are setting Britain free."
Tourism and travel firms that have been hammered by pandemic restrictions welcomed the move, which makes the U.K. one of the most open countries in the world for international travel.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of airline industry body Airlines U.K., said it was "a landmark day."
"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," he said.
Johan Lundgren, chief executive of budget airline easyJet, said "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 U.K. and so it is important that there are no more knee-jerk reactions to future variants," he said.
Currently, travellers who have had at least two vaccine doses must take a rapid coronavirus test within two days of arriving in the U.K. Those who are unvaccinated face stricter testing and quarantine rules.
Britain is also easing rules for the unvaccinated, who will have to take coronavirus tests before and after traveling to Britain but will no longer face quarantine.
Monday's announcement applies to England. The other parts of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — set their own public health policies but have generally adopted the same travel rules as England.
Coronavirus cases in Britain soared in December, driven by the extremely transmissible omicron variant, though hospitalizations and deaths have remained well below previous pandemic peaks. Britain has seen over 154,000 deaths in the pandemic, the second-worst toll in Europe after Russia.
Johnson's Conservative government is also lifting mask mandates and other restrictions this week, and is relying on vaccinations and widespread testing to keep the virus in check.
Britain has recorded more than 150,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe after Russia.
COVID-19 update: India reports 2,841 new cases, nine deaths in last 24 hours, active cases dip to 18,604
The fresh COVID-19 infections reported on Friday were marginally higher than 2,827 cases logged on Thursday. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.58 per cent, while the weekly positivity rate was 0.69 per cent
So far, over 2,36,01,148 children in the age group of 15-17 years and over 77,68,203 children in the aged 12-14 have been administered vaccine doses in Uttar Pradesh
Delhi had reported 377 new Covid cases and one more death on Monday, while the positivity rate was 3.37 percent