Fully vaccinated travellers from the United States and most of Europe will not need to undergo quarantine for Covid-19 in England, The Guardian reported on Wednesday. The changes will be effective from 4 am on August 2.
However, India still remains on the red list. This means that only British or Irish citizens or those who have residence rights in the UK will be allowed entry from India. But even then, they would have to undergo mandatory quarantine.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that the policy changes would apply to residents of American and European countries, except France, who have been fully inoculated with a vaccine approved by drug regulators in the US and the European Union.
Residents of Europe would have to produce a digital Covid-19 certificate while those from the US will need to show a paper card that they have been fully vaccinated.
Shapps said that the travellers should have got their final dose of the vaccine at least 14 days before their arrival, reported BBC. Travellers will also have to take a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test before departure or on the second day of their arrival to the UK.
Those under 18 years will not need to be vaccinated. Some of them will also not have to undergo the Covid test, depending on their age.
The transport secretary said the decision was a “great stride” towards reuniting people and unlocking business travel. Shapps said that international cruises would soon be allowed to resume. He also announced that the requirements for some frontline workers, who do not leave their vehicles when crossing the border into England, will be relaxed.
The new rule only applies to England but the administrations in Scotland and Wales are expected to make similar announcements soon, reported Reuters.
The decision came on the day when the UK recorded a rise in coronavirus cases, bringing an end to a daily drop in cases for the last week. On Wednesday, the country recorded 27,734 new cases, up from 23,511 the day before. However, this was significantly lower than the 44,104 new cases that were reported a week ago. The daily death count stood at 91, down from Tuesday’s 131.
Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party in the UK, had earlier said that the decision to ease restrictions was “reckless” and warned that it could lead to the importation of more variants such as the Delta strain that could be more transmissible.
Professor Christine Pagel, director of the clinical operational research unit at UCL university in London, told The Guardian that vaccinated residents can still contract Covid-19. “By definition, the variants we are most worried about are the ones that infect vaccinated people,” Pagel said. “So making vaccinated people exempt from quarantine doesn’t make any sense if variants are what we are most worried about.”
Though the UK has relaxed restrictions for US citizens, the Joe Biden administration in America has said that tighter curbs for Britain will stay in place. This is despite an agreement between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Biden to set up a task force to restore travel between the countries.
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had said that any non-US citizens who have been in the UK 14 days before their flight to America would be barred entry because of the prevalence of the Delta variant. She also said that US citizens would be advised not to travel to the UK.