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Britain to remove testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers

Starting Feb. 11, international visitors won’t have to take a coronavirus test after they arrive

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For fully vaccinated travelers, crossing into England will soon be a bit easier. British Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said Monday that people who meet that criteria will no longer have to take a coronavirus test within two days of entering the country, beginning at 4 a.m. on Feb. 11.

“Of course, we know that covid can spring surprises,” he said. “But everybody now should feel confident about booking holidays and business trips and visits to family and friends abroad.”

The country is also paring down testing requirements for travelers who are not fully vaccinated, scrapping a rule mandating that they take a test on the eighth day after arrival. However, they will still need to take a take a test before departing and a PCR test on or before their second day in England. Regardless of vaccination status, all arrivals will need to complete a passenger locator form, which Shapps said will be simplified, “making it quicker and easier to complete.”

Children under the age of 18 traveling to the United Kingdom will not face any tests at the border.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the rule change earlier Monday, but he did not provide specifics on the timeline, multiple outlets reported.

Johnson said that “to show that this country is open for business, open for travelers, you will see changes so that people arriving no longer have to take tests if they have been vaccinated, if they have been double vaccinated,” per the Associated Press.

The change in England’s travel policy follows a number of altered restrictions the country has announced in recent weeks. In early January, England dropped its preflight testing mandate for fully vaccinated travelers. Johnson announced a further easing of health and safety measures intended to combat the omicron variant in England last week — a popular move among some Conservative lawmakers — amid calls for his resignation.

Britain’s scandal-hit Boris Johnson lifts coronavirus restrictions, battles to save premiership

Johnson has had difficulty moving past allegations that the prime minister’s quarters hosted a number of parties during the pandemic when such gatherings were banned in England. He apologized at the House of Commons and admitted he had attended a “BYOB” garden party at his home in May 2020.

Following a surge in cases due to the omicron variant, Britain has seen an improvement in coronavirus numbers that appears to indicate the country has passed its omicron peak. According to tracking data compiled by The Washington Post, through Monday afternoon, Britain had a reported 24,032 cases per 100,000 people, with a seven percent drop in daily cases over the past seven days.

Scotland announced Monday that it would similarly ease restrictions, doing away with testing requirements for fully vaccinated travelers arriving to the country. The change will also take effect on Feb. 11 at 4 a.m.