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The UK is reopening to vaccinated Americans, but will it last?

July 29, 2021
4 min read
The UK is reopening to vaccinated Americans, but will it last?
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Beginning at 4 a.m. on Aug. 2, England will allow fully vaccinated travelers from the United States and the European Union to enter its borders without the need to quarantine.

The news was welcomed by the travel industry on both sides of the Atlantic. August would traditionally be one of the busiest travel months between the U.K. and the U.S. but has seen just a trickle of the usual traffic this summer thanks to tough restrictions for visitors to both countries.

But is this a permanent step toward normality?

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The United Kingdom celebrated its highly anticipated "Freedom Day" on July 19 when it removed most social distancing restrictions in England. The decision is being closely watched by other countries as it is considered somewhat of a gamble, as the world still grapples with the pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is betting that the U.K.'s high vaccination rates have already permanently severed the link between COVID-19 infections and hospital admissions and that the worst of the pandemic is now over in the country. He has said that if England does not fully reopen now, in the middle of summer, when its population spends as much time outdoors in the fresh air as possible, the country might never do so.

Freedom Day arrived as the U.K. experienced worryingly high rates of new infections thanks to the highly infectious delta variant, thought to have originally been brought into the country from India, before India was placed on the U.K.'s travel ban "red" list.

Related: 5 things travelers need to know about the delta COVID-19 variant

You might be wondering why Freedom Day proceeded with such alarming new rates of cases. While new infections were being recorded in the tens of thousands by July 19, daily deaths from the virus remained in double digits compared with more than 1,000 per day during the January 2021 peak.

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Infections are high, but deaths remain very low for a country of almost 68 million people.

Following a slight rise in new cases in the days following July 19, numbers have steadily fallen over the past week, from an average of 47,114 per day on July 21 to 29,703 on July 28 (on a seven-day average basis). This reduction comes as nightclubs are fully open and Brits socialize indoors and out, mostly restriction-free.

Boris Johnson has insisted Freedom Day is an irreversible change toward a post-pandemic life though the delta variant has already proven that nobody can predict the future of the pandemic. For now, scientific evidence continues to assure the British government that the vaccines, administered both in the U.K. and the U.S., do provide adequate protection against COVID-19 and each variant that has so far been identified, including the dreaded delta variant. This assurance has led to the U.K. welcoming those Americans who are fully vaccinated to visit without quarantining.

Related: The delta variant hasn't made a dent in US travel demand, airlines say

However, if the delta variant or even a new emerging variant does cause an unexpected spike in new infections in the United States, particularly in those who are fully vaccinated, then the U.K. may well suspend the quarantine waiver for Americans visiting the country for tourism purposes.

As seen with India earlier this year, a huge spike in new infections in the U.S. could even see the country moved to the U.K. government's dreaded red list, which would mean non-Brits are banned from entering the U.K. from the U.S. If this were to happen then any returning British citizens would be forced into expensive mandatory hotel quarantine for 10 days to reduce the spread of infections within the U.K.

Featured image by A passenger with luggage is seen at London Heathrow Airport in west London on February 14, 2021 . - A new 10-day hotel quarantine regime for British residents returning to the UK from 33 coronavirus variant hotspots begins on February 15, despite concern from the country's busiest airport Heathrow that "significant gaps" remain in the plans. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
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4 / 5
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Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.