England scraps quarantine for fully vaccinated visitors

Fully vaccinated travelers from the United States and much of Europe can enter England without quarantining starting next week.

The British government says people who have received both doses of a vaccine approved by the FDA in the U.S. or the European Medicines Agency, can take pre-and post-arrival coronavirus tests instead of self-isolating.

There is one exception: France, which Britain has dubbed a higher risk because of the presence of the beta variant of the coronavirus. Visitors from France will continue to face a British quarantine.

Currently, only people who have been vaccinated in Britain can skip 10 days of quarantine when arriving from most of Europe or North America. The move to boost Britain’s ailing travel industry comes despite rising coronavirus cases.

The rule change takes effect Monday and only applies to England. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland will decide whether to follow suit.

Britain’s travel industry has criticized the government for being too slow to open up, saying it has squandered its lead in the global vaccine rollout and given the EU a headstart in attracting tourists.

Now, from Aug. 2, travelers with the U.S. and EU-approved vaccines will not have to quarantine. Lifting the same requirement for fully vaccinated Britons returning from medium-risk countries in July helped to kickstart a travel recovery.

The new rule applies to England but is widely expected to be followed by the rest of Britain shortly. The government said international cruise sailings could also restart from England.

Airlines such as British Airways and Britain’s biggest airport Heathrow, weighed down by cumulative pandemic losses of $4 billion, welcomed the move but said more was needed to be done if the industry was to recover from the collapse in demand.

Top of the list is a reopening of the UK-U.S. travel corridor which is still affected by a ban on all non-U.S. citizens who have been in Britain.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told LBC Radio earlier on Wednesday that he wanted U.S. citizens to come to England “freely” and was discussing making changes.

Travelers also still have to take an expensive COVID-19 test before departure and shortly after arrival in England.

BA Chief Executive Sean Doyle said the company’s trials had proved it could check travelers for vaccination status quickly and safely.

“This step will allow us to reunite loved ones and get Global Britain back in business, giving the economy the vital boost it so badly needs,” he said in a statement.

(With AP inputs)

https://www.thestatesman.com/world/england-scraps-quarantine-fully-vaccinated-visitors-1502987454.html

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