UK scraps quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated amber arrivals, but not including Americans

Jul 8, 2021

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The U.K. government has formally announced its plans to allow fully jabbed Brits to skip quarantine requirements on return home from amber list countries. The change in foreign travel policy was announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Thursday and takes effect from July 19.

The move to allow fully vaccinated travelers arriving in the U.K. from amber countries to skip quarantine coincides with “freedom day,” the country’s lifting of restrictions on July 19.

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However, at this time, the exemption only applies to travelers who have been fully vaccinated in the U.K. Therefore, travelers who have been fully vaccinated in another country — such as the U.S. — are not yet eligible for the exemption.

The change will allow eligible travelers to skip 10-day isolation. However, they will still need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on their second day back in the country.

“I can confirm today that from 19 July, UK residents who are fully vaccinated through the UK vaccine rollout will no longer have to self-isolate when they return to England,” Shapps said. “They will still be required to take a test three days before returning, the pre-departure test, demonstrating they’re negative before they travel, and a PCR test on or before day two, but they will no longer be required to take a day eight test.

“In essence, this means that for fully vaccinated travelers, the requirements for green and amber list countries are the same.”

Shapps said there are no changes to arrivals from red countries.

Additionally, Shapps said that those younger than 18 will no longer need to isolate.

The move has partially answered the calls that the travel industry has been pressing the government to consider. Currently, there are only 27 countries and territories on the highly desired green list, which does not require a quarantine on return to the U.K. The majority of the world’s countries — 147 in total — are currently on the medium-risk amber list, which does require a quarantine and testing regime. The United States is currently on the amber list.

Related: What kind of COVID-19 test do I need to travel and how much does it cost?

Previously, there are no exceptions for travelers who are fully vaccinated. Many other countries around the world have implemented loosened border restrictions for travelers who are fully vaccinated.

The move will be a huge lift to the aviation and tourism industries in the U.K. Many of the world’s biggest holiday destinations are currently on the amber list. Plus, it could be a huge step forward to opening a travel corridor of sorts with the U.S. — if the exemption is soon extended to Americans.

“We’re pleased to see this common sense approach which is already working safely for many other countries, but there is more work to do,” British Airways CEO Sean Doyle said in a statement. “While the quarantine requirement for ‘amber’ countries is being lifted for fully vaccinated U.K. travelers, the government needs to quickly extend this to all vaccinated travelers, agree a reciprocal deal with the U.S., add more countries to the ‘green’ list and reduce the need for unnecessary, expensive tests. This will allow the UK to catch up with other countries and send a message that Global Britain is now, finally, open again.”

Heathrow is set to unveil a new trial that would establish special fast-track lanes for vaccinated travelers on arrival. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic passengers on select flights will be able to utilize the new fast-track immigration lanes at Heathrow,

Related: Heathrow, BA and Virgin trialing online document verification for select flights returning to the UK

According to government data, more than 45 million people in the U.K. have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while more than 34 million people across the country are fully vaccinated.

Featured photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas/Getty Images.




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