I am writing to update you on the UK Government's plans to further progress the safe, sustainable and robust restart of international travel.
It remains our priority to protect public health in the UK, but thanks to the success of our vaccination programme I am delighted to inform you that, from the 19 July, we will be able to make a number of changes to reopen international travel.
First, the message that people intending to travel to amber list countries “should not travel” will be removed. This will provide peace of mind to people wishing to travel to amber countries for leisure.
Further to this, passengers who have been fully vaccinated in the UK will be able to travel to amber list countries without having to quarantine on return to England or complete a test on or before day 8, provided it is at least 14 days after having completed their full vaccination course. In practice this means that amber and green list countries will have the same requirements for those who have been fully vaccinated in the UK.
However, those returning to England from an amber list country who are not fully vaccinated will still need to abide by the standard amber restrictions, including both the day 2 and 8 PCR testing as well as the pre departure test and self-isolation.
Children under 18 will also be exempt from self-isolation and the day 8 test. They will still need to complete a pre departure and day 2 test. Children between the ages of 5 and 10 will only need to complete a day 2 test. I am sure families will welcome this development in our approach, guided by scientific advice.
Participants of approved UK clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines will also be exempt from any self-isolation requirements on arrival from amber countries. Day 2 PCR tests will remain a requirement for now.
International travel will continue to be different this year. Passengers will still need to complete their passenger locator form when returning to the UK. If they are returning from an amber list country, they must provide proof of their pre-departure test and full vaccination status via the NHS app or the inclusive letter. We will continue to return to full eGates functionality over the summer, with many already in operation across airports and more to be added over the coming months.
It is also important to note that passengers may face longer wait times at the UK border as demand picks up, although the Government is making every effort to speed up queues safely. Operators will have a critical role in carrying out initial checks before boarding, checking people have the right documents and proof of vaccination to ensure we can continue to safeguard against new variants.
These changes to amber list arrivals will come into force from Monday 19 July at 04:00. There will be no immediate changes to requirements for those returning from green or red list countries, nor for unvaccinated passengers travelling from amber countries who do not have a valid exemption. There will also be future checkpoints for our system of managing international travel both later this month, and in October.
Health is a devolved issue in the UK and the Devolved Administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will determine their policies in due course. All UK residents who have received a full course of NHS administered vaccine will still be able to use the inclusive letter for their outbound travel letters.
These measures are intended first to prioritise those vaccinated in the UK, and through a phased approach Government has begun work with key markets and destinations to introduce similar measures, pending further bilateral and multilateral discussions with international partners. We hope to remove quarantine for fully vaccinated non-UK residents from amber countries later this summer. In the meantime the Test to Release scheme remains an option for travellers returning from amber countries to shorten their quarantine period, by paying for a private test and being released early if they receive a negative COVID-19 test result. We will continue to keep you updated on our progress.
It is only thanks to the success of our vaccination programme that we’re able to move further forward with our efforts to continue to safely reopen international travel this summer. We will, of course, continue to prioritise public health, but after a challenging year for the aviation and travel industries, upon which so many hundreds of thousands of jobs rely, I am delighted that we are now able to take these steps.
Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP