What are the UK Covid travel restrictions?

All testing requirements now scrapped for those who qualify as fully vaccinated

Heathrow will be hoping its arrivals concourse will see many joyous reunions in the coming months. Photo: Heathrow
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From 4.00am GMT on Friday, UK travel rules were further loosened in a move sure to please travel chiefs who have been clamouring for the abolition of all Covid restrictions on fully vaccinated travellers.

Even before the latest unwinding, demand for travel bounced back in January after the removal of testing requirements bar taking a lateral flow test within 48 hours of entering the UK.

Figures from digital travel agency Skyscanner show bookings for economy return travel from the UK this summer increased by 394 per cent in January 2022 compared with the previous month.

They also show bookings for 2022 to Dubai from the UK made in January were up 49 per cent from the same month in 2020.

The travel rules unwinding has also been reflected in the numbers of people coming to the UK for a summer holiday. Britain was the most popular summer booking in January for travellers from the UAE, Skyscanner said.

Top five European destinations for UAE travellers this summer

Bar the emergence of a new more deadly Covid variant, the new most light-touch UK travel rules are likely to see the travel industry's renaissance continue apace.

What are the new UK travel restrictions?

Fully vaccinated travellers

Fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to take any form of Covid test before or after arrival in the UK.

As was already the case, there is no need to quarantine under any circumstances. The only requirement is the need to fill in a passenger locator form before travel to the country.

To count as fully vaccinated, travellers must have proof of full vaccination with an approved vaccine. The final dose must have been taken no later than 14 days before arrival in the UK.

Non fully vaccinated travellers

For those who don't qualify as fully vaccinated, there are three obstacles to overcome.

Proof of a negative Covid test must be shown. This test must have been taken in the two days before travel to the UK.

Second is the requirement to book and pay for a Covid PCR test to be taken upon arrival in the country.

Third is the requirement to fill in a passenger locator form.

There is no need for unvaccinated travellers to quarantine unless the result of their PCR test is positive.

Why are UK travel rules changing?

Beyond providing further travel stimuli to boost the Covid-struck industry, the relaxation of the UK's travel rules is part of the government's determination to transition from a pandemic to an endemic mindset, where Covid is seen as one of many respiratory illnesses in circulation rather than a menacing separate entity.

To this effect, all domestic Covid rules in England are expected to be dropped by the end of February, a month before the government had planned to make the move.

“It is my intention to return on the first day after the half-term recess to present our strategy for living with Covid,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament when announcing the change of plan.

“Provided the current encouraging trends in the data continue, it is my expectation that we will be able to end the last domestic restrictions, including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive, a full month early.”

Top 10 summer countries 2022*

*Top countries for UK travellers for economy return travel booked via Skyscanner in January 2022 for travel in summer 2022 (June, July and August 2022)
Updated: March 17, 2022, 12:08 PM
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