The United Kingdom is set to drop all remaining COVID-19 travel measures later this week, allowing all travelers – regardless of vaccination status – to enter without a passenger locator form or negative coronavirus test.
The new travel measures will go into effect 4 am on Friday, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
“These changes are possible due to our vaccine rollout and mean greater freedom in time for Easter,” Shapps said in a Monday tweet.
Nearly 86% of the UK’s population 12 and older has had two doses of a vaccine as of Sunday, according to government data.
Adult travelers from the US who are not fully vaccinated must show a negative coronavirus test taken no more than two days before travel and purchase a PCR test to be taken within the first two days after arrival. All passengers, regardless of vaccination status, must fill out a passenger locator form no more than three days before their arrival.
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The country’s travel restrictions are set to ease even as coronavirus case counts are rising.
More than 444,000 people in the UK tested positive over the last seven days, up 48% from the week prior, according to government data. Deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test were up 2% in that same timeframe, while the number of patients admitted to a hospital jumped 17%.
Heathrow Airport, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic to drop face mask requirements
Also Monday, London’s Heathrow Airport announced that it would drop its face mask requirement in terminals, office buildings and rail stations on Wednesday.
“We’re pleased that we’re now able to move away from a mandatory requirement as society learns to live with COVID longer term,” Heathrow Chief Operating Officer Emma Gilthorpe said in a Monday statement. “While we still recommend wearing them, we can be confident the investments we’ve made in COVID-secure measures – some of which aren’t always visible – combined with the fantastic protection provided by the vaccine will continue to keep people safe while traveling . “
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic both signaled that they would begin to drop face-covering requirements in response.
Virgin Atlantic Chief Customer and Operating Officer Corneel Koster said the airline would drop its masking requirement “gradually,” starting Wednesday with Caribbean services from Heathrow and Manchester airports. The company plans to continue to adhere to regulatory requirements in destination countries, and masks will still be required on “many” routes.
Koster added that travelers will need to mask up on flights to or from the US through at least April 18 to comply with the Transportation Security Administration’s mask mandate.
“As we learn to live with Covid and with the legal requirement to wear a face mask now removed in England, we believe our customers should have the personal choice whether to wear a mask onboard, on routes where international regulations around mask-wearing do not apply, “Koster said in a statement. “We encourage everyone to be respectful of fellow passengers’ mask preferences.”
Jason Mahoney, British Airways’ Chief Operating Officer, said the airline will only require masks on international flights if the destination requires it starting Wednesday.
“For destinations where the wearing of a face covering is not mandated, our customers are able to make a personal choice, and we kindly request everyone respects each other’s preferences,” Mahoney said in a statement.
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