Travel restrictions

When is the next travel update? When UK Covid travel restrictions could be lifted – and what the new rules could be

Boris Johnson has stressed the importance of getting the Covid shot if people want to travel abroad this summer

The Prime Minister has announced that Covid-19 testing for fully vaccinated travelers arriving in England will be scrapped.

The exact date of the rule change has yet to be confirmed, but it is expected to come into effect before the February break.

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A booster shot is expected to become a requirement for overseas travel (Composite: Kim Mogg/JPIMedia)

The news follows last week’s announcement that all Plan B restrictions will be lifted in England from Thursday (January 27).

Boris Johnson has signaled his intention to start treating coronavirus in the same way as the flu, with plans to scrap the legal requirement to self-isolate when regulations expire on March 24.

But when is an update on the travel rules expected? Here’s what you need to know.

When is the next travel update?

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will announce details of the new travel regulations in a statement to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, January 24, following a meeting of the Cabinet’s Covid-19 operations committee.

The update comes after top airline bosses wrote to the government demanding an end to coronavirus travel restrictions.

In the letter, they called for unrestricted travel to be reinstated “at least” for those who are fully vaccinated.

The letter was signed by the executives of Ryanair, easyJet, Loganair, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Jet2, as well as the chief executives of holiday travel group Tui and trade body Airlines UK.

What travel testing rules could change?

The next travel update will see the requirement for fully vaccinated travelers to take a Covid-19 arrival test removed, with the rule due to come into force in time for the February holidays.

The move means families can return from abroad without having to take a lateral flow test on the second day of their return to the UK, which is currently required by government rules.

The rule change will only apply to those who have received at least two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine and live in England.

During a visit to hospital in Milton Keynes on Monday, Mr Johnson said: ‘What we are doing on travel, to show this country is open for business, open for travellers, you will see changes so that people who arrive no longer have to take tests if they have been vaccinated, if they have been double vaccinated.

The devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have recently implemented Westminster’s changes to international travel rules, so it’s likely that similar changes will be made across the rest of the UK.

It is also expected that fully vaccinated arrivals will only need to complete a simplified version of the passenger locator form, and vaccines used by more countries will be recognized for travel.

During a visit to hospital in Milton Keynes today, Mr Johnson said: ‘What we are doing on travel, to show this country is open for business, open for travellers, you will see changes so that people who arrive no longer have to take tests if they have been vaccinated, if they have been double vaccinated.

Travel testing rules were already eased slightly earlier this month after pre-departure testing was scrapped, meaning travelers no longer have to take a test before returning to the UK.

Second-day PCR testing and self-isolation on arrival in the UK have also been scrapped.

Instead, fully vaccinated travelers no longer need to take a lateral flow test until the second day of arrival and only need to self-isolate if the result is positive.

Those who are not vaccinated must still quarantine at home for a full 10 days on arrival in the UK and take a PCR test on the second and eighth days.

Will a booster shot be necessary to travel?

The Prime Minister stressed the importance of getting a booster shot if people want to travel abroad this summer, suggesting the top-up dose will become a requirement for holidays abroad.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has previously said a booster will soon be needed to be classed as fully vaccinated in the UK, with the change to come “once all adults have had a reasonable chance of getting their vaccine”.

Mr Johnson also spoke of the likelihood that three doses of the vaccine will become a “significant fact” in the future, particularly for overseas travel.

Speaking in the Commons last week, he said: ‘We will certainly be reviewing the testing arrangements for travel and the Health Secretary will be making a statement in the coming days on this.

“I think it’s really important that everyone in the country understands that getting your booster, wherever you want to go in the world, getting your booster is going to be a pretty crucial thing to do.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson added: ‘We expect the vast majority of countries around the world to expect people to be stimulated to enter their country and so it is extremely important that everyone understand that if you want to travel this summer, you will almost certainly need to be boosted.

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