England, Scotland scrap Covid-19 quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers returning from France

Published : 05 Aug 2021 09:03 PM

Reuters, London 

Britain will scrap quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers returning to England and Scotland from France, rowing back on a rule that had infuriated French politicians and thrown millions of holidays into confusion.

Britain has double-vaccinated a higher proportion of its population against Covid-19 than most other countries, but a maze of rules has prevented travel to many countries, devastating the travel industry.

Britain's Transport Minister Grant Shapps said the easing of the rules would ease pressure on the struggling travel industry and give sun-seekers a chance to meet up with friends and family.

England and Scotland also eased rules for Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway, though it upped the price for obligatory quarantine hotel stays for red list countries by 60 per cent to £2,285 (S$4,287) per adult.

"While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public," Mr Shapps said in a statement.

Scotland is also easing the rules.

Britain operates a "traffic light" system for international travel, with low-risk countries rated green for quarantine-free travel, medium-risk countries rated amber, and red countries requiring arrivals to spend 10 days in isolation in a hotel.

Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will all be added to England's green list for low-risk travel from Aug 8, the government said, meaning that arrivals into England from those places do not have to self-isolate whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's travel regulations have angered some of Britain's European allies, frustrated millions of sun-seeking Britons and brought dire warnings from airports, airlines and tour companies.

British Airways welcomed the easing of the rules but said the government had to go further.

"We welcome more low-risk countries being added to the green list but urge the government to go further, end uncertainty and allow people to benefit from our world-leading vaccination programme," said Mr Sean Doyle, the airline's chairman and chief executive.

"The UK's economic recovery is reliant on a thriving travel sector and right now we're lagging behind Europe, with our more stringent testing requirements and a red list significantly broader than our European peers."

The airline lobby group, Airlines UK, said the government's move was too late to save the crucial summer holiday season.

"This is another missed opportunity and with the summer season nearing its conclusion means international travel has not had anything like the reopening it was hoping for," it said. "The UK continues to open up far slower than the rest of Europe."