COVID travel tests to be scrapped for double jabbed arrivals in time for half term

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COVID testing for fully vaccinated travellers arriving in England will be scrapped, Boris Johnson has announced.

Confirming the move, the transport secretary told the House of Commons that post-arrival lateral flow tests would no longer be required from 4am on 11 February.

Grant Shapps told MPs: “That means that after months of pre-departure testing, post-arrival testing, self-isolation, additional expense, all that fully vaccinated people will now have to do, when they travel to the UK, is to verify their status via a passenger locator form.”

Airline bosses had urged the government to loosen restrictions, arguing Omicron is in retreat, and that travel restrictions have a “limited effect” in preventing the spread of the virus.

Speaking during a visit to the Academic Centre, Milton Keynes Hospital, Johnson said: “We have, thanks to the tough decisions, the big calls that we made… the most open economy and society in Europe.

“And although we have to be cautious, we are now moving through the Omicron wave, and you can see the figures are starting to get better.

“So what we’re doing on travel, to show that this country is open for business, open for travellers, 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.”

The changes, which will be brought in in time for February half term, will be seen as a major boost for travel firms and families planning an overseas trip.

EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren welcomed the update, saying “millions of our customers” will be “delighted to see the return of restriction-free travel in the UK”.

He went on: “We believe testing for travel should now firmly become a thing of the past.

“It is clear travel restrictions did not materially slow the spread of Omicron in the UK and so it is important that there are no more knee jerk reactions to future variants.”