“We are helping to reunite people living in the United States and European countries with their family and friends,” Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted. The policy will go into effect from 4:00 a.m. (03:00 GMT) on August 2.
The UK travel industry has criticized the government for being slow to open up, saying it has lost its lead in the global vaccine rollout and given the EU a head start in attracting tourists.
Travelers with US and EU approved vaccines will not have to self-quarantine. The lifting of the same requirement for fully vaccinated Britons returning from medium-risk countries in July helped start a resumption of travel.
The new rule applies to England but is expected to be widely followed by the rest of the UK shortly. The government has said international cruises could also restart from England.
Airlines, such as British Airways and the UK’s largest airport, Heathrow, weighed down by cumulative pandemic losses of $ 4 billion, welcomed the move but said more was needed if the industry wanted recover from the collapse in demand.
Topping the list is the reopening of the UK-US travel corridor which is still affected by a ban on all non-US citizens who have stayed in the UK.
Earlier Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told LBC radio that he wanted American citizens to come to England “freely” and that he was discussing making changes.
Travelers also still have to pass an expensive COVID-19 test before departure and shortly after arriving in England.
BA chief executive Sean Doyle said the company’s testing has proven it can check travelers’ immunization status quickly and safely.
“This step will allow us to reunite our loved ones and get Global Britain back into business, giving the economy the vital boost it so badly needs,” he said in a statement.
This move comes with an increase in COVID cases in the UK for the first time in seven days as the UK finds itself in another wave of coronavirus due to the Delta variant, which is spreading faster than the previous common variant.
The UK reported 27,734 confirmed cases on Wednesday, ending the seven-day drop in cases, according to UK media.
Quarantine rules for travelers from France
Changing quarantine rules for the US and EU will make it easier to access some of the UK’s biggest markets for visitor volumes. It will also help businesses grow their businesses after severe financial pressure from 16 months of restrictions linked to the pandemic.
British Airways shares rose 3%, easyJet 4% and Wizz Air 7%.
Airlines make almost all of their profits during the summer season and easyJet said this month it is directing more flights to Europe where demand is higher.
“It’s the right thing, it should be done, but like I said it’s a bit too late,” easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren told LBC.
The UK government has said it is maintaining quarantine rules for travelers from France due to the presence of the beta variant there, but French officials say most cases originate from the island of overseas of Réunion in the Indian Ocean.
The UK will review the status of travelers from France at the end of next week. French officials have complained about UK travel restrictions for France since a last-minute July 19 decision to maintain them.
A politician from President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party called Wednesday’s decision “absurd.”
“Quarantine for those fully vaccinated from Lille but not from Brussels; Paris but not Miami; Annecy but not Geneva; Montpellier but not Barcelona, ”wrote Alexandre Holroyd, whose voters include French people living in the United Kingdom.
“Vaccines work: give those protected from #covid back their freedom,” he tweeted, adding the hashtag #sciencenotpolitics.