UK to allow fully vaccinated travellers from Europe to skip quarantine (but not tests)
The UK government has announced details of how fully vaccinated travellers from countries in Europe to the UK can skip the mandatory 10-day quarantine when arriving in England, Scotland and Wales.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps took to Twitter to announce the move, saying the UK government was "helping to reunite friends and families".
"We're helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK," he said. The relaxation applies to arrivals in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland was set to consider the quarantine rules on Thursday.
The relaxation does not affect travellers from France given that the UK recently ranked France as effectively "amber plus".
"Separate rules will continue to apply for those arriving from France," the government said.
The UK government had previously relaxed the quarantine rules only for arrivals from amber-level countries who had been vaccinated under the British National Health System.
That caused much anger among Britons living abroad, who complained they were effectively being barred from seeing family at home.
After much speculation in recent days the UK government has finally moved to level the playing field.
Now from 4am on August 2nd any travellers from amber level countries - which includes the majority of European nations - arriving in Britain who have been fully inoculated with a vaccine recognised by the European Medical Agency or Swiss vaccination programme (Pfizer, Astra Zeneca, Moderna or Johnson &Johnson) can now skip the mandatory 10 day quarantine.
"The UK Government has today (28 July) announced that
However travellers (apart from children under 10) will still need to provide a negative test no more than three days prior to travel and take a PCR test on the second day after arriving in the country (apart from children aged 4 and under).
Passengers from all countries also cannot travel to the UK unless they have completed a Passenger Locator Form.
One thing that wasn't immediately clear from the government's statement is whether the PCR test needed on day 2 after arrival needed to be booked in advance of travel as is currently the case.
The UK does accept lateral flow or antigen tests for pre-travel requirements.
The relaxation for the moment does not apply to travellers from France - whether returning British residents or people living in France - given that the UK ranked France as a so-called "amber plus" country.
That last-minute decision caused much anger and bafflement because the UK government said it was based on the spread of the Beta variant in France - which has in fact been falling and remains less than five percent of all cases.
In recent days there has been speculation the British government will return France to normal amber level but not announcement has yet been made.
What has the reaction been from Britons in Europe?
Many took to Twitter as usual following the UK announcement to express relief at the move but also annoyance that they would still have to take PCR tests in the UK, which can be costly.
How about making the tests actually affordable?? for a family of 4 over 11 it's a pretty expensive endeavour, especially when you provided a negative test to arrive in the first place! I'd much rather quarantine than pay your mates upwards of £100 per person!!— 💙Anne-Claire ‘do-gooder’ Howard 🇪🇺🇫🇷🇬🇧 (@AnnClaireHoward) July 28, 2021
So as a Brit living in The Netherlands, presumably there are free testing facilities I can use in the UK on day 2 to get my PCR test? I’m assuming no one is going to try and make money off families being reunited after 18 months being apart? @grantshapps— Stuart Mann (@IAmStu2) July 28, 2021