The final remaining travel restrictions in the UK will be scrapped this week
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The final remaining COVID-19 travel measures in the United Kingdom — including the dreaded passenger locator form and tests for unvaccinated arrivals — will be scrapped later this week.
The updates to current restrictions will come into effect at 4 a.m. on Friday.
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The news comes just in time for Easter and will bring relief to travelers across the U.K. and abroad. It will be the first time since the spring of 2020 that travelers have been able to enter the country without restrictions.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the rule changes on Twitter, saying, “These changes are possible due to our vaccine rollout and mean greater freedom in time for Easter.”
All remaining Covid travel measures, including the Passenger Locator Form and tests for all arrivals, will be stood down for travel to the UK from 4am on 18 March.
These changes are possible due to our vaccine rollout and mean greater freedom in time for Easter.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) March 14, 2022
Currently, only fully vaccinated people are able to enter the U.K. without the need to test beforehand, though they must still fill in a passenger locator form within 72 hours of travel. Travelers who aren’t fully vaccinated must take a COVID-19 test before departure, fill out the PLF and also book and pay for a PCR test after arriving.
Following the rule changes, there will no longer be any travel restrictions in place for anyone arriving in the U.K.
The announcement will be a boon to holidaymakers and the airline industry, as both have directed particular ire toward the continued use of the PLF.
Shapps’ previous attempts to revise the PLF system had been stymied by stiff opposition from the Department of Health, according to reports, which was said to want tougher curbs to keep track of future variants coming into the U.K.
Travel leaders, however, have claimed for months that PLFs are not only redundant thanks to the vaccine rollout, but that they are also bad for business.
“Ministers are absolutely right to remove the remaining restrictions but this needs to cut across all elements of the economy, including travel,” Airlines UK chief Tim Alderslade told the Daily Mail last month.
“If there is no requirement to self-isolate for those with [COVID-19] in the UK, jabbed or otherwise, there can be no justification for continuing with travel restrictions for the unvaccinated, including the continued use of the PLF which, although not as bad as testing, remains a deterrent to travel.”
The forms have also proved unpopular among travelers who say they are long-winded and add an extra layer of unneeded stress to international travel even as the shadow of COVID-19 begins to evanesce.
In reaction to today’s news, Alderslade was in full support saying, “the UK travel sector is back,” according to Sky News.
“With travellers returning to the UK no longer burdened by unnecessary forms and testing requirements, we can now look forward to the return to pre-COVID normality throughout the travel experience,” he said.
Echoing his sentiments, Julia Simpson, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council, said: “Other countries ditched Passenger Locator Forms weeks ago, but it is good news the U.K. Government has now scrapped all travel restrictions for coming to the U.K.”
“If we are to compete on a world stage we need to be ‘open for business’ and not ask people to fill in lengthy forms.”
And a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said, “The removal of all remaining U.K. travel restrictions, including the Passenger Locator Form, is the final important step towards frictionless air travel, helping to further restore consumer confidence as we welcome more customers back to the skies this spring and summer.”
“With these barriers to travel removed, Britain is open for business and passengers can reconnect with loved ones and business colleagues once again.”
While it remains to be seen whether this is truly the end for COVID-19 restrictions in the U.K. it’s certainly a step forward in the government’s “Living with COVID” plan.
Featured photo by Jasper Jacobs/Belga/AFP/Getty Images.
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