Beginning next week, the UK will allow fully-vaccinated travelers to England from the United States and most of the European Union to arrive without needing to quarantine. The news comes after a meeting of senior cabinet ministers and the COVID Operations Committee Wednesday.
Arriving passengers will still have to present a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test and another on Day 2 after arrival in England. Unvaccinated travelers amber list countries, which includes most of Europe and the US, are still required to quarantine on arrival.
While the relaxed requirement currently apply only to England, the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are reportedly consulting with London over adopting a UK-wide policy soon.
International cruise sailings will also restart from England, according to a government announcement.
To be considered fully vaccinated, travelers from the US must have received all recommended doses of one of FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson. A person is fully vaccinated two weeks or more after receiving a “full course” of the vaccine, meaning both shots of vaccines that require them (see CDC vaccination guidelines here).
With the vaccine, visitors will be able to enter the UK from any country on the British government’s “amber” traffic light list without having to self-isolate at home for 10 days. Travelers would need to show either a US-issued vaccine card or an EU Digital Covid Certificate (see UK government COVID travel guide here).
The exception to the new rule is arrivals from France, where quarantine requirements still apply because of concerns over the “persistent presence” of the Beta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which may be more resistant to vaccines.
Easing quarantine requirements for United States and EU travelers will be a big boost for some of Britain’s biggest markets for inbound travelers. In addition, travelers from the US bound for Canada also received good news with the announcement last week that government restrictions on cross-border travel were being relaxed beginning Aug. 9.
The overall trend toward dropping some restrictions for fully-vaccinated travelers had raised expectations for the establishment of a quarantine-free ‘travel bubble’ between countries with similar vaccination rates – such as between the US and the UK.
However, the Biden administration quashed those prospects this week with the announcement that the US will not lift any of its current travel restrictions “at this point.” Administration officials cited concerns over the rising number of coronavirus cases in the US and the spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19 delta variant.