England’s COVID-19 travel rules simplified to boost industry
- Transportation secretary simplifies travel rules and cuts costs
- Expensive tests abandoned for fully vaccinated
- Destinations will be classified as high or low risk
LONDON, Sept. 17 (Reuters) – Britain on Friday simplified the rules for international travel to England to boost the tourism industry, including removing the need for fully vaccinated passengers to take expensive COVID-19 tests upon arrival from low risk countries.
Under the new proposals, destinations will simply be rated low or high risk, instead of red, orange and green. Eight countries, including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives, will be removed from the high-risk red band from next Wednesday which requires passengers to quarantine themselves in a hotel.
From October 4, vaccinated passengers arriving from low-risk countries will be allowed to take a cheaper lateral flow test, rather than the privately administered PCR lab tests now required. PCR tests for a family can now cost hundreds of pounds.
“Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. A system with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones, or do business all over the world. giving a boost to the travel industry, ”Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement.
The UK government sets policy for England, while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are in charge of their own rules.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under months of pressure to ease restrictions. Airlines and travel agencies blamed complicated tests and rules for the slow recovery in air travel over the summer and warned sweeping changes were needed or more loss of air. jobs would follow the 100,000 already lost.
The industry, already on its knees after 18 months of restrictions, faces a cliff as a government holiday program ends later this month as winter approaches, as fewer people travel and that businesses tend to lose.
DELAY IN RECOVERY
Unvaccinated travelers returning from low-risk countries will need to undergo pre-departure testing, as well as PCR tests on day two and day eight, and self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival, the government said.
England will also expand the list of countries from which it recognizes vaccinations, following the success of a pilot with the United States and Europe. 17 other countries and territories will be added to the list, including Japan and Singapore.
Data shows the recovery in travel to Britain is lagging behind. Flights to the UK were down 39% from pre-pandemic levels for the two weeks through early September 6, while France, Spain and Italy were down between 24 % and 28%, according to Eurocontrol.
Travel company Thomas Cook described the changes as “a boost for the travel industry” while airline bosses, such as EasyJet (EZJ.L) chief executive Johan Lundgren, urged the government to go further by eliminating all screening of vaccinated travelers. low risk countries.
The British Airline Pilots Association said the changes were good news for the industry. But workers in the sector are said to be among the most affected by the end of the government’s leave program, which paid the salaries of staff sent home during the pandemic and expires at the end of this month.
“But there is still some way to go before UK aviation can really take off and the industry remains in dire straits after a disastrous summer season,” BALPA Acting Secretary General Martin Chalk said. “With the end of the holidays, it will be difficult for cash-strapped airlines to get back on their feet as demand returns.”
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Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, Costas Pitas, Guy Faulconbridge and Sarah Young, editing by Angus MacSwan, Philippa Fletcher, Peter Graff and Jonathan Oatis
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