The British government announced Monday (Jan. 24) that it is nixing COVID-19 testing measures for vaccinated people arriving in England.
U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the change will take effect Feb. 11, just in time for the U.K’s “half term” holiday period for students and families.
“We are removing ALL testing measures for eligible fully vaccinated arrivals to England from 4am on 11 Feb,” wrote Minister Shapps on his Twitter account on Monday. “These changes have been made possible by the success of our vaccine & booster rollout.”
Britain is also scaling back on restrictions for unvaccinated arrivals, who will need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before day two after they arrive in the U.K but will no longer face quarantine (except if they test positive).
All passengers will still need to complete a Passenger Locator Form, which is accessible here.
The changes mean the U.K. “has one of the most free-flowing borders across Europe in addition to having the most open economy and society,” the U.K. government said in a statement posted to its website.
The simplification of travel rules also comes as “an extra boost for the tourism industry,” officials said.
“The framework set out today is intended to be one that will last,” the government stated. “It aims to provide stability for travellers and the travel industry throughout 2022, ensuring the U.K. remains one of the best places in the world to do business.”
Minister Shapps, in a statement, added that “we made the right calls at the right time and thanks to our vaccine and booster rollout it’s paying off – allowing us to safely remove nearly all COVID-19 travel restrictions for vaccinated travellers.”
“This final step in our stable and safe full return to international travel is a major boost for U.K. tourism, setting Britain free ahead of the crucial half term and spring holiday season," Shapps said.
Currently, travellers who have had at least two vaccine doses must take a rapid coronavirus test within two days of arriving in the U.K. Unvaccinated travellers also currently face stricter testing and quarantine requirements.
Monday's announcement applies to England as other parts of the U.K – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – oversee their own health policies (but each of them have generally followed England’s lead).
In a statement reported by the Associated Press, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that "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 PM is also lifting mask mandates and other restrictions this week, relying on vaccinations and testing to keep COVID-19 under control, the AP reported.
Britain has recorded more than 150,000 coronavirus deaths, which is the highest toll in Europe after Russia.