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Travel test rules relaxed for double-vaccinated travellers


Testing requirements will be relaxed for fully vaccinated travellers, under the government’s shake-up of rules for international travel.

Holidaymakers who have been double-jabbed will no longer need to take a pre-departure test when travelling to England, under the new measures, which take effect from Monday 4 October at 4am.

Fully vaccinated travellers from a host of new countries including Japan and Singapore will be treated like returning fully vaccinated UK travellers, following a pilot scheme with the US and Europe.

And from the end of next month, such passengers – and those with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries – will be able to replace their day two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test on arrival in England.

The government wants this in place for when people return from half-term breaks.

Anyone testing positive will need to self-isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost, which will be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants, the government said.

Testing for unvaccinated passengers from non-red countries will still include pre-departure tests, day two and day eight PCR tests.

The shake-up of the system brings in just two lists – a new “red list”, and a a “rest of world” category.

The red list of countries from which returning travellers will be required to quarantine in a government-supervised hotel is to be cut, transport secretary Grant Shapps said.

Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives are all being removed from the line-up.

Mr Shapps said the new “simplified” system aimed to strike “the right balance to manage the public health risk as no 1 priority”.

He said: “We welcome the simplification of the traffic light system, and the changes to the testing requirements allowing UK travellers to benefit from our world-leading vaccination programme and finally giving customers and business the confidence to book the journeys they’ve been waiting for.

“Based on the scientific evidence, with fewer than 1% of people returning from low-risk countries testing positive for Covid (lower than the UK’s rate), we urge ministers to keep this policy under review, eliminating all testing for fully vaccinated travellers as soon as possible in the future, in line with most other European countries.”

British Airways chief executive and chairman Sean Doyle urged the government to go further and sweep away all testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers.

Abta, the organisation for travel agents and tour operators in the UK, had earlier this month called on the government to abandon Covid testing for most holidaymakers, and had also called for a “significant overhaul” of the traffic-light system.

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