UK’s Rishi Sunak pushes Boris Johnson to relax England travel rules

Finance minister calls for Covid tests before departure and arrival to be scrapped

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UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has pressed for travel restrictions to be relaxed amid concerns that Britain is not reaping the benefit of its vaccination programme.

Mr Sunak has reportedly written to the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking him to relax England’s border controls before a meeting of ministers on Thursday. The Treasury declined to comment.

England last month lifted the requirement for fully vaccinated UK citizens returning from medium-risk countries to quarantine.

Visitors from the EU and US with the same status will also be exempt as of Monday.

But travellers must take – and pay for – Covid tests before departure and shortly after arrival.

Separately, the bosses of Britain’s biggest airlines and travel companies urged Transport Minister Grant Shapps to add more countries to the “green list” so people travelling to and from such destinations would face fewer restrictions.

They said green status should increasingly become the default, given that nearly 90 per cent of British adults had received one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and more than 70 per cent had had two.

“On this basis, there is no reason why, and it is essential, that much of Europe including the key volume markets, the US, Caribbean and other major markets, cannot turn green next week in time for the remainder of the summer peak,” bosses of Virgin Atlantic, easyJet, British Airways, Loganair, Ryanair and TUI UK & Ireland said in a letter shared with journalists.

They said the continued requirement for passengers to pay for Covid-19 tests would be detrimental to aviation.

“We have seen no evidence that this regime is necessary for fully vaccinated travellers or those from Green countries, or that effective, cheaper rapid tests cannot be used from higher risk destinations,” they said.

Updated: August 2nd 2021, 6:53 AM