England is to allow US and EU travellers who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus to enter without the need to quarantine in what will be a huge boost to retail, which has been starved of tourist trade since the pandemic struck.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that the new rules will be in place from 4am on Monday 2 August. The Cabinet minister said: “We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK.”
It has not been announced whether the change will apply to people arriving in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Currently, only travellers who have received two doses of a vaccine in the UK are permitted to enter from an amber country – such as the US and most of the EU – without self-isolating for 10 days, except those returning from France.
But ministers have decided to extend the exemption to those vaccinated in the US and the EU.
Shapps continued: “We’ve taken great strides on our journey to reopen international travel, and today is another important step forward.
“Whether you are a family reuniting for the first time since the start of the pandemic or a business benefiting from increased trade – this is progress we can all enjoy.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid added: “Our vaccination programme is building a wall of defence against this virus so we can safely enjoy our freedoms again, with seven in 10 adults in the UK now double jabbed.
“By reopening quarantine-free travel for travellers who have been fully vaccinated in European countries and the USA, we’re taking another step on the road to normality which will reunite friends and families and give UK businesses a boost.”
Travellers will be required to take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on or before the second day after their arrival.
In addition to the EU, the new rules also include arrivals from Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and Vatican City.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said the Government had made “the right decision”. He said: “We will now work with colleagues in the industry to boost UK trade, reunite family and friends, and generate billions in new tourist income.”
British Airways CEO Sean Doyle said the move “will allow us to reunite loved ones and get global Britain back in business”.
No reciprocal deal has been reached with the US, meaning UK visitors are still banned from entering due to coronavirus fears.
Travellers from France to the UK will continue to be required to enter quarantine, however.
Shapps also announced that international cruises will be permitted to restart from ports in England.
The lack of tourists has hit retailers in central London particularly hard and New West End Company CEO Jace Tyrrell welcomed the news, telling CityAM.
“While many UK citizens have been enjoying trips overseas, many businesses, significantly in London’s West End and across other UK city centres, have been desperately missing the trade that overseas tourists bring.
“Travel is a two-way street and it is right that twice vaccinated international travellers should be spared quarantine and be able to enjoy the retail, culture and hospitality of the UK.
“World class destinations such as London’s West End rely heavily on overseas visitors and their spending to maintain appeal for global brands."