From 19 July fully vaccinated UK travellers will no longer be required to self-isolate when returning home to England from “amber list” countries including Spain.
The British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has also announced today that it “no longer advises against all but essential travel to Spain, based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks”.
The decision has been welcomed by the airline industry, with Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade declaring, “The summer season essentially starts here.”
EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren also praised the decision, “This move means Europe is turning green for people who are fully vaccinated. We have always said that vaccination is the key to unlocking travel and now millions will finally be able to reunite with family and loved ones abroad or take that long-awaited trip this summer.“ He did, however, add that “more needs to be done” to end “unnecessary testing”. (Test providers are listed on the GOV.UK website.)
Quarantine and testing requirements for UK travellers to the EU vary from one country to another, and the government recommends that holidaymakers carefully check their destination’s entry requirements before finalising any travel plans. Spain’s are among the least restrictive, even though they were slightly tightened up last month.
In a statement to Parliament this morning, transport secretary Grant Shapps said travellers would still have to take a pre-departure test three days before their return flight and a PCR test on or before day two of their return.
Shapps said the changes – which will coincide with so-called “Freedom Day”, when most COVID-19 rules in England are due to be lifted – would apply to people 14 days after their final dose of the vaccine, and only vaccines given by the NHS would count.
Travellers would also no longer be required to take a day-eight test. “In essence,” said Shapps, “this means that for fully vaccinated travellers the requirements for green and amber list countries are the same.”
England’s 19 July rule changes are due to be confirmed on 12 July after a review of latest data, and the next review of the government’s three-tier traffic light system (green, red and amber) is expected to be on 15 July.
Noting that he recognised travel rules for children had been a major concern for families, Shapps said he was “delighted” to be able to offer them reassurance in this respect.
Under the new rules, children under the age of 18 returning from amber list countries will not be required to isolate on their return, or have to take a COVID-19 test on the eighth day.
Children between five and 10 years will only have to take a day two test, and children aged four and under continue to be exempt from all testing and self-isolation protocols.
Northern Ireland plans to adopt the changes from 26 July, while Scotland and Wales are reportedly considering their options.
“Peace of Mind” for Passengers
Another industry leader welcoming the changes was British Airways’ chairman and CEO Sean Doyle, who said in a press statement, “This is an important step for Britain as we start to make travel possible again after 18 difficult months. There is still more to do, including opening the US, but we are enthusiastic about welcoming more of our customers back over the summer period and reassuring them that British Airways is ready. Our people have been working relentlessly behind the scenes to make important changes to the customer experience that will ensure our customers receive a first-class experience and complete peace of mind.”
Earlier this week, British Airlines announced plans for a “proving trial” in partnership with Heathrow and Virgin Atlantic “to demonstrate that all WHO-approved, fully vaccinated travellers can safely enter the UK seamlessly using digital technology to prove vaccination status.” VeriFLY, which already provides British Airways customers with access to an app to host verification documents, will be a key partner in the trial.
British and other international tourists visiting the Murcia region and its popular Costa Cálida resort areas are being offered free travel insurance to cover COVID-incurred and other medical costs.