Covid travel tests to be axed in England for vaccinated arrivals

People arriving in England from abroad will no longer have to take Covid tests if they are fully vaccinated, the government has confirmed.

The changes will be introduced from 4am on 11 February “in time for the half term break”, said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Rules have also been eased for unvaccinated travellers, who will no longer have to take a day eight test.

However, they will still need pre-departure and day two tests.

And everyone arriving in England, regardless of vaccination status, will need to fill in a passenger locator form – although these would be made “simpler and easier” to complete, Mr Shapps said.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have previously followed England’s lead, but any changes are for them to decide.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Shapps said: “Today I can confirm that our international travel regime will now be liberalised as part our efforts to ensure that 2022 is the year in which restrictions on travel, on lockdowns and limits on people’s lives are firmly placed in the past.”

He said: “From 4am on February 11, and in time for the half-term break, eligible fully-vaccinated passengers arriving in the UK will no longer have to take a post-arrival lateral flow test.

“That means that after months of pre-departure testing, post-arrival testing, self-isolation, additional expense, all that fully vaccinated people will now have to do, when they travel to the UK, is to verify their status via a passenger locator form.”

The move was welcomed by the travel and tourism industry, which has been one of the sectors hit hardest by coronavirus lockdown measures.

Airline Virgin Atlantic said: “The removal of all testing for vaccinated passengers is the final step in moving towards frictionless air travel, allowing passengers to reconnect with loved ones and business colleagues.

“It restores customer confidence and demand will be boosted in a critical booking window for the travel industry.”

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said the airline would “now look ahead to what we believe will be a strong summer”.