2021-10-04 21:52:46 England Eases International Covid Travel Restrictions
England Eases International Covid Travel Restrictions
LONDON: Britain eased coronavirus restrictions on international travel into and out of the country on Monday, citing the success of its vaccination campaign, and relaxed testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals.
The change, which took effect at 4 a.m. local time, replaced a three-tier traffic light-inspired system with a single “red” list of countries and territories posing the greatest risk.
Critics had complained that the old system, which involved the government changing the risk status of countries on a regular basis and left Britons scrambling to figure out the latest rules while on vacation, had caused confusion in the travel industry.
“We are accelerating towards a future where travel continues to reopen safely and remains open for good,” Britain’s transportation secretary, Grant Shapps, said in a statement, adding that “today’s rule changes are good news for families, businesses, and the travel sector.” Mr. Shapps attributed the change to the high vaccination rate in the United Kingdom, where 67 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.
Fully vaccinated travelers entering England will no longer be required to take a pre-departure coronavirus test if they are returning from a country that is not on the red list, according to the new rules. Though travelers must still pay for a test on the second day after their return, the government announced later this month that it will accept less expensive rapid tests over polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R., tests.
Arrivals who tested positive, on the other hand, would be required to isolate and take a P.C.R. test, “which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants,” according to the government.
Testing and quarantine requirements for those who have not been fully vaccinated remain unchanged, as do rules for those entering from countries on the “red” list.
Following the success of a pilot test involving arrivals from the United States and Europe, England will also begin a phased approach to recognizing vaccinations administered in other countries and territories, expanding the list to over 50 countries on Monday, including the United Arab Emirates, Japan, and Canada.
According to a New York Times database, Britain reported an average of 33,779 daily cases and 112 daily deaths in the previous week. Cases have increased by 16% compared to the previous two weeks’ average.