Transport Minister Grant Shapps took to Twitter to announce the move, saying the UK government was “helping to reunite friends and families”.
“We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK,” he said. For the moment the relaxation only applies to arrivals in England with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set to announce their own decisions at a later time.
The relaxation does not affect travellers from France given that the UK recently ranked France as effectively “amber plus” – the only European country to be given the special rating.
“Separate rules will continue to apply for those arriving from France,” the government said.
The UK’s rules for France are in stark contrast with French rules for travellers arriving from the UK, who do not need to provide a negative test or to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated.
The UK government had previously relaxed the quarantine rules only for arrivals from amber-level countries who had been vaccinated under the British National Health System.
That caused much anger among Britons living abroad, who complained they were effectively being barred from seeing family at home.
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The changes will apply to fully vaxxed people with an FDA or EMA vaccine 💉 – they’ll still need to do the usual pre-departure test before arrival and take a PCR test on day 2 of returning to the England.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) July 28, 2021
After much speculation in recent days the UK government has finally moved to level the playing field.
Now from 4am on August 2nd any travellers from amber level countries – which includes the majority of European nations – arriving in Britain who have been fully inoculated with a vaccine recognised by the European Medical Agency or Swiss vaccination programme (Pfizer, Astra Zeneca, Moderna or Johnson &Johnson) can now skip the mandatory 10 day quarantine.
“The UK Government has today (28 July) announced that
However travellers will still need to provide a negative test no more than 72 hours prior to travel and take a PCR test on the second day after arriving in the country. Passengers from all countries also cannot travel to the UK unless they have completed a Passenger Locator Form.
One thing that wasn’t immediately clear from the government’s statement is whether the PCR test needed on day 2 after arrival needed to be booked in advance of travel as is currently the case.
The UK does accept lateral flow or antigen tests for pre-travel requirements.
The relaxation for the moment does not apply to travellers from France – whether returning British residents or people living in France – given that the UK ranked France as a so-called “amber plus” country.
That last-minute decision caused much anger and bafflement because the UK government said it was based on the spread of the Beta variant in France – which has in fact been falling and remains less than five percent of all cases.
The French Ambassador to London Catherine Colonna pointed out that the Beta variant, first detected in South Africa and is believed to be more resistant to the AstraZeneca vaccine is responsible for less than 2 percent of cases in “continental France” – meaning excluding its Indian Ocean islands where the Beta variant is more prevalent.
— Catherine Colonna (@AmbColonna) July 27, 2021
In recent days there has been speculation the British government will return France to normal amber level but not announcement has yet been made.
The move not to apply the new relaxation to France once again caused anger among Britons in France.
It seems that the UKG cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. The decision to take France off the amber+ list – giving it same status as other EU countries – is due next week. Why couldn't they make that decision today? Different committee. But it seems to be a matter of time
— John Lichfield (@john_lichfield) July 28, 2021
But not France. This was the perfect moment for them to roll back their ridiculous policy but no, they double down with no evidence to back it up. Complete charlatans.
— Rebecca Hutchison (@becksh78) July 28, 2021
But what about those of us in France? What about people who transit through France?
We're not 'people from these countries' we are UK nationals who are desperate to see our families whom we haven't seen for a very, very long time. We are UK students trying to get back to uni… https://t.co/evBvcjeNLz
— British in Europe (@BritishInEurope) July 28, 2021