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France-UK travel: Day two tests for vaccinated to end February 11

Travel firms welcome changes in time for half-term. It will also soon be possible for 12 to 15-years-olds to show proof of vaccination through the NHS app

An image of a family of four walking through an airport wearing masks

UK travel testing restrictions are being lifted for the fully vaccinated, making half-term holidays simpler for families Pic: Halfpoint / Shutterstock

 Day two testing requirements for fully vaccinated arrivals into the UK will be lifted at 04:00 on February 11, the UK’s Transport Minister Grant Shapps has announced. 

This means that people who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to carry out a lateral flow or PCR test on or before day two after they enter the UK and will only have to complete their passenger locator form.

Before the end of February this form will also be simplified, and people will be given an extra day in which to complete it.

The government also announced changes to the rules for unvaccinated people, who will no longer have to carry out a test on or before day eight after arrival, as before. 

Unvaccinated travellers will from February 11 only have to take a pre-departure test and day two PCR test, as well as filling in their passenger locator form. Neither will they need to self-isolate on arrival.

“The simplification of travel rules comes just before half-term, providing welcome news for families looking to travel abroad during the school holidays, as well as an extra boost for the tourism industry,” the government said in a statement. 

The red travel list will remain in place, but the government is considering whether to replace hotel quarantine with a home isolation option at an as yet unspecified point in the near future.

Covid passes for 12 to 15-year-olds 

Children in the 12 to 15 age group will also be able to display digital proof of their vaccination status or of recent recovery from Covid through the NHS app from February 3.

This may make it easier for these children to create a French health pass (not a vaccine pass for this age group) and gain entry to venues including restaurants, cafés, museums and theme parks, and to use ski lifts. 

Read more: France’s vaccine pass begins: how and where will it be used?

Until now, families have had to request their children’s vaccination or infection records in paper form, and this has led to delays in receiving the documents often required for travel.

A move welcomed by the tourism industry

This relaxation will be good news for tourists and travel operators. Earlier this month, Heathrow Airport boss John Holland-Kaye said that the aviation industry would only recover from the pandemic when all travel restrictions were lifted. 

“As the barriers to travel come down, demand goes up,” Christophe Mathieu, CEO of Brittany Ferries, told The Connexion. “Reservations for spring and summer holidays are roaring ahead, but this latest news means we can expect demand to soar for the February half-term. Let us hope we can put the last of the lockdown obstacles behind us and make 2022 a comeback year to remember.”

EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said: “We welcome this news knowing that millions of our customers will also be delighted to see the return of restriction-free travel in the UK. We now look ahead to what we believe will be a strong summer.

“We believe testing for travel should now firmly become a thing of the past. It is clear travel restrictions did not materially slow the spread of Omicron in the UK and so it is important that there are no more knee-jerk reactions to future variants.

“We commend the government for removing all testing. EasyJet plans to return to near 2019 levels of flying this summer and so we can’t wait to welcome our customers back onboard.”

The CEO and chairman of British Airways, Sean Doyle, added: “Today’s announcement provides a welcome boost to the travel industry and UK economy. 

“Finally fully-vaccinated customers can start to book with confidence whether they are doing business, going on holiday or reuniting with friends and family without the additional costly and time-consuming burden of testing. It sends a clear message to the rest of the world that global Britain is back in business.”

Filip Hermann, vice-president and head of Channel routes at DFDS, commented: “We are delighted.

“While we recognise the need for measures to protect public health, there is clear evidence that the restrictions put in place last winter are not effective in preventing the spread of new coronavirus variants. 

“This is excellent news for travellers, for our business and for the wider travel industry. We can now look ahead to the half-term holiday, Easter, and the summer with greater optimism, but increasing passenger demand will also mean delays at the UK’s ports unless further changes are made.  

"There is more that needs to be done to avoid queues –simplifying the passenger locator form and other documents will help, but we hope that the government will work with travel operators on the review of these measures and speed up their removal. 

“We have recently highlighted the difficulties that the current level of paperwork will create at UK borders. We need the government to work proactively with our industry to address this, along with issues around the impending introduction of the EU Entry/Exit System (EES), to prevent delays at the border when passenger numbers increase and ensure that everyone can enjoy a stress-free start to their holiday. #

 “It is vital that travellers and our industry can plan ahead with more certainty this year. We hope that the government’s commitment to set out how it plans to respond to any future emergence of a coronavirus variant will provide this and we urge them to work with our industry to consider future measures impacting on travel.”

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