Britain is set to further ease travel restrictions by dropping quarantine requirements for arrivals who have been vaccinated in the US and the European Union—if they are traveling to England, Wales, and Scotland from amber list countries.
From August 2, most of the UK will no longer require fully vaccinated travelers from EU countries and the US to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival if they are coming from an amber or mid-risk country. Until now, only UK residents returning to England who had been "fully vaccinated with an NHS administered vaccine in the UK" could bypass quarantine, but now the doors are open for arrivals who have been fully jabbed with US- and EU-approved vaccines —as well as travelers from these countries who have recovered from the virus.
Most countries are categorized as amber under the UK's traffic light system, including holiday hotspots like Italy, Greece, Spain, mainland Portugal and the US. France is also on the amber list, but passengers returning from there are still required to quarantine for 10 days due to the concern over the spread of the Beta variant in the country.
But there are still some requirements people need to consider before planning a trip. In addition to a pre-travel test, travelers coming from amber countries must take a PCR test on the second day of their arrival, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed. Children will also be required to take a PCR test on the second day, and unvaccinated and even partially vaccinated travelers will still be required to quarantine for 10 days when arriving from an amber country.
For now the rules only apply to people who are traveling to England, Scotland and Wales; the situation remains unchanged in Northern Ireland.
We're helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK 👪
From 2nd August at 4am people from these countries will be able to come to the England from an amber country without having to quarantine if they're fully vaxxed 💉
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) July 28, 2021
There are no changes to the rules for arrivals coming from green list countries – destinations where infection rates are low and vaccination rates are high. They're also required to take a PCR before and after travel but they don't have to quarantine.
Arrivals from red list or high-risk countries will continue to be required to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine at their own expense. You can see a detailed breakdown of travel rules here.
Meanwhile, England has reopened the nation, dropping almost all domestic COVID-19 rules, despite the ongoing surge in cases due to the Delta variant. While the British Medical Association (BMA) has called for continued face mask use, the government's mask mandate is now removed, along with social distancing guidelines. Entertainment and hospitality sectors fully reopened on July 19 for the first time since last March without restrictions; gigs and festivals are returning; sporting games are permitted to operate at full capacity; and life has more or less return to pre-pandemic times.
In London, however, masks are still mandatory on public transport including the Tube, bus, tram, DLR, Overground and TfL Rail. Passengers will continue to wear a face covering in transport stations and for the duration of their journey.
In a tweet announcing the news, London's mayor Sadiq Khan said: "there is overwhelming evidence that face masks reduce the transmission of COVID. Face masks will stay compulsory on services—to protect vulnerable Londoners and give everyone the confidence to travel."
In Scotland, officials have downgraded COVID-19 restrictions to their lowest level, but the mandatory use of face masks will remain in place for "some time", the country's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said as she urged citizens to continue to "stick to limits on gatherings, observe appropriate distance, wear face coverings, ventilate rooms and wash hands".
Like England, Wales dropped COVID-19 restrictions on July 19 but masks will continue to be required on public transport and in health and social care settings. While in Northern Ireland, masks are required in public, and social distancing will apply in most public settings.
This article was originally published on May 7, 2021 and updated on July 28, 2021.
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