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UK to allow fully vaccinated travellers from Europe to skip quarantine (but not tests)

The UK government has announced details of how fully vaccinated travellers from countries in Europe to the UK can skip the mandatory 10-day quarantine when arriving in England, Scotland and Wales.

UK to allow fully vaccinated travellers from Europe to skip quarantine (but not tests)
(Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / AFP)

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. The relaxation applies to arrivals in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland was set to consider the quarantine rules on Thursday. 

The relaxation does not affect travellers from France given that the UK recently ranked France as effectively “amber plus”.

“Separate rules will continue to apply for those arriving from France,” the government said.

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.

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 passengers arriving from amber countries who have been fully vaccinated in Europe (EU Member States, European Free Trade Association countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and the European microstate countries of Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City) and the USA will not have to quarantine when entering England, as part of a range of new measures designed to continue to drive forward the reopening of international travel,” said a statement from London.

However travellers (apart from children under 10) will still need to provide a negative test no more than three days prior to travel and take a PCR test on the second day after arriving in the country (apart from children aged 4 and under).

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.

In recent days there has been speculation the British government will return France to normal amber level but not announcement has yet been made.

What has the reaction been from Britons in Europe?

Many took to Twitter as usual following the UK announcement to express relief at the move but also annoyance that they would still have to take PCR tests in the UK, which can be costly.

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Member comments

  1. As an American living in France who hasn’t seen my daughter in the UK for a year, I’m just plain angry. I have even been vaccinated with the OXFORD AstraZeneca vaccine, and I still can’t travel into the UK without quarantining. Why single out France except for political retribution? As the article states, it is NOT for any health reason, at this point.

        1. For vaccinated individuals the pre travel Covid tests and day 2 tests are a nonsense. Furthermore how is a family supposed to go to the UK when children have to vaccinate. We all know that children under 18 are not being vaccinated.

  2. So what happens if we want to drive back to visit relatives in the UK from Germany, driving through France to get Eurotunnel?🤷‍♀️

    1. You currently still have to quarantine but this is likely to change next Wednesday when/if France moves from amber+ to amber

    2. For anyone who has been in France in the last 10 days… even if you are fully vaccinated.

  3. Have booked flight and puzzled what are the requirements if you are going to the UK for just one night. Ie arrival day is day zero and you are leaving on day one. Am guessing you have to book a day 2 test to get into the country but then ditch it and just return on day one? Although as it implies you can have it anytime post arrival up to day two is one obligated regardless to have a test in the limited window?

  4. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/red-amber-and-green-list-rules-for-entering-england

    “If you will be in England for less than 10 days
    If you’re travelling to England for less than 10 days, you will need to quarantine for the whole of your stay.

    You must still book your day 2 and day 8 travel tests, even if you will no longer be in England on the dates of the tests. You only need to take the tests if you’re still in the country on those dates.”

    My interpretation is that you’d still need to book a day 2 test even if you only plan to stay for 1 day……but you don’t have to take it (?) – stupid.

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TRAVEL NEWS

SWISS pilots threaten an October strike action

The Swiss pilots’ union could go on strike during Switzerland’s busy autumn holiday period.

SWISS pilots threaten an October strike action

The union, Aeropers, which has been negotiating salary increases and improved working conditions with Switzerland’s national airline, has rejected the carrier’s latest collective labour agreement (CLA) and is threatening to go on strike.

The  (CLA) is a kind of contract that is negotiated between Switzerland’s trade unions and employers or employer organisations. Generally speaking, they cover a minimum wage for each type of work; regulations relating to work hours; payment of wages in the event of illness or maternity; vacation and days off; and protection against dismissal.

READ MORE : What is a Swiss collective bargaining agreement — and how could it benefit you?

The pilots said they would cease flying on October 17th, which falls in the middle of school holidays in a number of cantons — the period when many families holiday abroad.

“SWISS has not sufficiently entered into the matter of the legitimate interests of its pilots”, Aeropers said, adding that if the airline doesn’t come up with a better offer, the union “will initiate the procedures for a strike”.

For its part, SWISS said in a press release that it offered its pilots 60 million francs more than on the previous CLA, but “Aeropers executive committee has rejected this latest offer as inadequate, and has made demands of its own totalling over 200 million”.

However, Aeropers head Thomas Steffen has denied SWISS’ claim saying the 200-million figure is “a fantasy number” that has no basis whatsoever. According to Steffen, the pilots’ demand was “significantly less than half of this sum”.

He went on to accuse the airline of “propaganda” at the detriment of its employees”.

He added that the strike would me a last-resort measure if the dispute on pay, which has been going on for a year, is not resolved within a month.

“We’ve negotiated for a year and made sure that our members are level-headed and fly safely and reliably, despite being without a contract,” Steffen said.

If the SWISS cockpit staff, which also includes its sister airline, Edelweiss, does go on strike, it will be the latest labour dispute in Europe’s aviation, which includes a strike by Lufthansa ground crew, which impacted Switzerland over the summer.

However, strikes by Swiss workers is relatively uncommon compared to other countries.

READ MORE: Why are strikes so rare in Switzerland?

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