The Department of Transport of the United Kingdom has announced a lessening in its international travel restrictions to become effective throughout 2022.
According to Grant Shapps, the UK’s Secretary of State for Transport, Omicron is in retreat in the nation thanks to the administration of 137 million vaccines and almost 37 million booster shots. “Britain is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world”, expressed Shapps in an oral ministerial statement to Parliament.
From February 11th, 2022, fully vaccinated travelers will not have to take pre-departure or post-arrival COVID-19 diagnostic tests. If they can prove their fully vaccinated status via the UK’s Passenger Locator Form —which can be filled in online—, they will also be exempt from all kinds of travel quarantine.
This will save money to travelers, who had to pay for lodging to complete self-isolation periods upon arrival in the UK, and spend about £100 (approximately 135 USD) for COVID-19 diagnostic tests for an average family.
The Secretary of State for Transport reminded the public that individuals are considered fully vaccinated when they’ve had at least two doses of an approved vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s Jenssen vaccine.
Approved vaccines in the UK are Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Covaxin, and Novavax. The UK authorities also recognize the vaccination certificates of over 180 countries worldwide, including China and Mexico from February 3rd.
If travelers do not have a proper vaccination certificate, they will be required to take a COVID-19 diagnostic test 2 days before arrival in the United Kingdom and submit the proof of negative results in the Passenger Locator Form. They will also have to take a post-arrival PCR test. But travel quarantine, including testing on the 8th day of the self-isolation period, will no longer be necessary.
Additionally, children under 18 years old will be exempt from all requirements. However, from February 3rd, kids from 12 to 15 years old in England will be able to prove their vaccination status through the digital NHS Pass for international travel.
“This should help families plan holidays for February half term,” said Grant Shapps.
The UK government also plans to make the Passenger Locator Form simpler and to extend the time period for completing it to at least one more day. This will happen by the end of February.
“This is a proportionate system that moves us a step closer to normality while maintaining vital public health protections,” explained the Secretary of State for Transport.
Strong travel restrictions, such as the travel quarantine, will only apply to people coming from countries with new relevant variants of concern that might appear in the future.
As of now, the UK’s list of red countries —which included countries in the African area where Omicron was first detected— remains empty. However, the UK Health Security Agency will keep alert to COVID-19 infections and other sanitary threats around the world and apply contingency measures as needed.