Fully vaccinated passengers arriving in England will no longer have to take a post-arrival lateral flow Covid test from 4am on February 11, 2022.
The announcement was made by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in an address to the House of Commons today (January 24). He said, “It’s obvious to me now that border testing for vaccinated travelers has outlived its usefulness. We are therefore scrapping all travel tests for fully vaccinated people.”
Passengers will still be required to verify their status via a passenger locator form.
Commenting on the announcement, Charlie Cornish, group CEO of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said, “This important announcement is excellent news for our sector’s recovery. This change will be welcomed by the millions of vaccinated people who are desperate to travel and will now be able to do so – restriction-free – for the first time in more than a year.
“The latest research shows travel restrictions do very little to stop the spread of variants like Omicron. Removing them will ensure the many cultural, social and economic benefits of international travel can be realized without any major impact on public health.
“With Britain reopened for business, we’re looking forward to helping people across the country get back to visiting exciting new places, finding fresh trading opportunities overseas and traveling to see friends and loved ones again.”
In contrast, Tom Watson, chair of the Laboratory and Testing Industry Organisation (LTIO), the trade body for the testing industry, has warned that the easing of restrictions may have come too soon, adding, “We are concerned that travel testing requirements have been lifted too quickly. We have consistently backed relaxing unnecessary restrictions, but the only way that our country can avoid hard lockdowns is by maintaining a robust Covid testing regime to quickly discover new variants.
“Last Wednesday in a Downing Street briefing, the health secretary stated, ‘These pharmaceutical defenses of the vaccines, antivirals, monoclonal antibodies and testing, I think they will be the cornerstone of our future defenses’.
“As the WHO has asserted that there will continue to be more variants, we believe removing testing completely for international travel would weaken our wall of defense because testing is the antidote to lockdowns.
“The diagnostic testing industry will continue to provide our services for those traveling out of the UK, as well as businesses that want to protect their staff.”