In a move that’s expected to boost the country’s sagging tourism numbers, England has announced it is simplifying requirements for fully vaccinated international travelers.
First, beginning October 4, vaccinated passengers arriving from low-risk countries will be allowed to take a cheaper lateral flow COVID-19 test, rather than the privately administered and more expensive PCR lab tests that are currently required.
The change creates a “simpler, more straightforward system,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement. “One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones, or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry.”
Secondly, England is poised to stop using a red, amber, and green system of grading countries based on their current COVID-19 caseloads. Instead, countries will simply be considered either low- or high-risk.
“We’ll also be … replacing the current approach with a single red list and simplified measures for the rest of the world — striking the right balance to manage the public health risk as No.1 priority,” Shapps wrote on social media.
What You Need To Know
It’s important to note that the British government sets policy for England; Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland set and enforce their own travel restrictions.
If you are planning to travel to England, here’s what you need to know:
Travelers will be considered fully vaccinated if it has been at least 14 days since they received a full course of either an Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, or Janssen vaccine. To travel to England, fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. must have proof — either digital or paper card — of vaccination.
Fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. must also schedule and pay in advance for a COVID-19 test to be taken two days after arriving in England. They also must complete a passenger locator form within 48 hours before arriving in England, and then take the COVID-19 test on or before day two of their stay in England.
Unvaccinated travelers from the U.S. will need to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test, and then take a PCR test two days and again eight days after arriving in England. They also will need to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in England.
A Test to Release program in which the unvaccinated traveler pays for a COVID-19 test to find out if they can reduce their quarantine period is still in place as an option.
All of the details about traveling to England may be found on the UK government’s website.
Know Before You Go
While 66 percent of England’s population is vaccinated, the New York Times COVID-19 data tracker shows that they’re reporting 21,695 new COVID-19 cases each day. That number has come down 10 percent over the past 14 days.
Also, if you are planning a trip to England, keep in mind that the U.S. State Department has issued a “Level 4:” travel for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It frankly states “Do not travel to the United Kingdom due to COVID-19.”
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