England to end Covid testing for double-vaccinated travellers, says Johnson

    Coronavirus testing for double-vaccinated travellers arriving in England will be scrapped, Boris Johnson has announced.

    The prime minister did not confirm when the travel rules would be eased, but it is likely to happen before the February half-term break.

    It will be a major boost for travel firms and families planning an overseas trip.

    On a visit to Milton Keynes hospital on Monday, Johnson said: “What we’re doing on travel, 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.”

    The industry body Airlines UK said it was a “landmark day”.

    The announcement only applies to England, but the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have recently implemented Westminster’s changes to international travel rules.

    Fully vaccinated people, meaning those who have had a full course of an approved vaccine, arriving in England must currently pre-book and take a post-arrival test from a private supplier.

    This can be a lateral flow test, which typically costs about ?19.

    The PA news agency understands that further changes mean fully vaccinated arrivals will only have to complete a simplified version of the passenger locator form.

    It is also expected that vaccines used by more countries will be recognised for travel, and the rules for travellers who are not fully vaccinated will be eased.

    Arrivals who are not fully vaccinated must currently take a pre-departure test and two post-arrival PCR tests, which are more expensive than the lateral flow version.

    They must also self-isolate for 10 days.

    The decision to ease travel rules follows growing pressure from the sector, which claims restrictions are ineffective.

    The easyJet chief executive, Johan Lundgren, welcomed the update, saying “millions of our customers” would be “delighted to see the return of restriction-free travel in the UK”.

    He went on: “We believe 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 UK and so it is important that there are no more kneejerk reactions to future variants.”

    He added that the airline intended to return to “near-2019 levels of flying this summer”.

    Airlines UK boss Tim Alderslade said: “This is a landmark day for passengers, businesses and UK plc.

    “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.”

    Christophe Mathieu, the chief executive of Brittany Ferries, said bookings for spring and summer holidays were already “roaring ahead” but the announcement meant “we can expect demand to soar for the February half-term”.

    Abby Penlington, director at the ferry trade association Discover Ferries, said the announcement would make travelling “easier, cheaper and will be a further boost to consumer confidence”.

    The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, will announce details of the new travel regulations in a statement in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, following a meeting of the cabinet’s Covid-19 operations committee.

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