• Sat. Jul 31st, 2021

As England Drops COVID-19 Restrictions, Here’s What It Means For Travel / By SASHA BRADY / Lonely Planet / Exclusive Travel News / London

A woman leaves Piccadilly Circus underground station wearing a face mask..The mandatory wearing of Face masks on public transport in England is to end on the 19th July dubber freedom day after Boris Johnson confirmed t

England has updated its rules for quarantine-free international travel as it drops COVID restrictions

© Bloomberg/Getty Images

As England ends most domestic COVID-19 restrictions today, it’s also dropping quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated UK residents coming from amber-list countries.

From today, England will no longer require fully vaccinated arrivals from amber or mid-risk countries to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. Instead they will take a PCR test on the second day of their return, in addition to a pre-travel test.

The relaxed entry rules only apply to UK residents returning to England who have been “fully vaccinated with an NHS administered vaccine in the UK”, as well as those who can prove they’ve recovered from the virus.

The UK’s transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that children will also be required to take a PCR test on the second day, and said that unvaccinated and even partially vaccinated travelers will still be required to quarantine for 10 days when returning from an amber country.

Amber arrivals must also show their vaccination status to their airline carrier before departure, either through the NHS app on their smartphone or with the NHS COVID Pass letter.

Wales and Northern Ireland are adopting the same measures as England for fully vaccinated UK residents coming from amber-listed countries, by removing the requirement to quarantine. However, the rules remain unchanged in Scotland.

The government will look at relaxing quarantine rules for non-UK residents coming from amber countries later this year, but for now they will be required to quarantine.

Most countries are categorized as amber under the UK’s traffic light system, including holiday hotspots like Italy, Greece, Spain and mainland Portugal. 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.

People eat and have drinks on restaurant and cafe terraces in Rue de Buci in Paris
UK arrivals coming from France will continue to be required to quarantine for 10 days

© Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

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. 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 is re-opening 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.

Branded as ‘Freedom Day’, entertainment and hospitality sectors are reopening fully for the first time since March last year without restrictions; gigs and festivals will return; sporting games will be permitted to operate at full capacity; and life will 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.”

A London bus is seen with a sign reading ‘you must wear a face mask’
Face masks are required on all public transport networks in London

© J SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

In Scotland, officials have downgraded COVID-19 restrictions to their lowest level today, 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 is dropping most COVID-19 restrictions today 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.

England’s ‘Freedom Day’ comes as 1200 scientists recently backed a letter to the Lancet medical journal, in which they called UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s plans to reopen the country as “dangerous and premature” with concerns that vaccine-resistant variants could develop as not enough people in the country are fully vaccinated yet.

                This article was originally published on May 7, 2021 and updated on July 19, 2021.

You might also like:
Some popular European destinations are tightening COVID-19 restrictions again
Canada could welcome fully vaccinated American tourists by August
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