The United Kingdom on Friday ended all coronavirus travel restrictions in what is being deemed by travel experts as the “final game-changer”.
The British government said the decision was made to make going on holiday easier for the Easter school vacation.
“Everything we have worked for – every jab, every test, and the sacrifices made by the whole country means that finally, nearly two years on, we can all travel without bureaucratic restrictions,” said British Aviation Minister Robert Courts after announcing the move.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes will mean people “can travel just like in the good old days.”
Now unvaccinated arrivals will no longer have to take tests and passenger locator forms have been scrapped. These forms require people to fill in travel details, their address in the UK and their vaccination status.
The news was welcomed by UK airlines such as Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, which said they are beginning to ease mask-wearing requirements on some routes.
“The removal of all travel restrictions is the final game-changer – people can now go on holiday or visit family and friends overseas without all of the stress that comes with testing before they return home,” said Derek Jones, chief executive of Kuoni, a tourism company.
“Finally, we’ve seen the back of the unpopular and ineffective passenger locator forms, which were always a hassle to complete. Travel has been in turmoil for two years but now it’s back.”
The announcement came as coronavirus infections were rising in all four parts of the UK: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for the first time since the end of January.
The latest government figures released Monday showed that there were more than 444,000 new cases recorded in the past seven days, up 48 per cent from the week before.
The number of hospital patients with COVID-19 is also going up, though it is still well below the peak recorded in January.
Scientists say many of the new infections in England were a more transmissible sub-variant of the Omicron variant.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the rise in infections was “to be expected” as people socialize more after all domestic coronavirus restrictions, including the legal requirement for anyone who tested positive to self-isolate, came to an end February 24.
“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” Javid said.
(With inputs from agencies)