SUN-STARVED Brits can now start to book their Christmas holidays with confidence as the latest travel changes are set to last until the beginning of 2022 “at the very least”, the Transport Secretary has said.
He said the reason why the government decided to change the rules is to make it easier for people to go abroad, now that most people have been vaccinated against Covid.
And Brits can be sure that if they book a holiday, they will actually be able to travel without the need of cancelling it, Mr Shapps said.
He explained: “Now we’ve got so many people vaccinated, perhaps nine out of 10 adults, it does give us some additional freedoms. And one of those is that we can drop the pre-departure tests.
“Another is that we can drop the expensive PCR tests on day two when people got back from abroad.
“But we will still require people to buy and use a lateral flow test.”
Mr Shapps said that from October 4, fully vaccinated people will not need a pre-departure test before arriving in England from abroad as the green and amber list will no longer exist.
Unvaccinated travellers returning from low-risk countries will be required to take a pre-departure test, plus PCR tests on day two and day eight, and to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival, the government said.
Strict rules will still apply for anyone returning from countries on the red list, including a compulsory hotel quarantine costing £2,285 for solo travellers.
British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle also welcomed the changes and urged ministers to scrap “all testing for fully vaccinated passengers as soon as possible”.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said this was a “welcome step forward” but also called for an end to the testing of vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries after arriving back in the UK.
Stewart Wingate, Gatwick Airport chief executive, said passenger locator forms should also be discarded.
He said: “Fully vaccinated passengers now have a larger choice of destinations and can book with more confidence in the months before Christmas and beyond.
“We also welcome the news that day two PCR tests will be replaced with the quicker and more affordable lateral flow tests, which will allow us to start catching up with our competitors in Europe and the US – where passenger numbers are already approaching pre-pandemic levels.
“However, we hope that the remaining constraints including the passenger locator form can be removed soon and we continue to call for the slot rules to be reinstated.”
After the changes were announced, there was a spike in holiday bookings, travel companies said.
Managing director of TUI UK Andrew Flintham said he has already seen “an uptick in bookings for Turkey in October” and expects customer confidence to have been boosted further by the new rules.
He added though that “fully vaccinated customers (in the UK) still have more travel restrictions in place than many other countries around the world, so as an industry we will not see the return of operations as we would like.”
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