Saturday, September 18, 2021

England to open borders to vaccinated U.S., EU citizens soon

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England is expected to open its borders to allow U.S. and European Union, EU, travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter without the need to quarantine, according to reports.

The plans, which would be a boost to the aviation and tourism sectors, were expected to be discussed by ministers on Wednesday, The Guardian and The Times reported.

The Guardian added that conversations were also expected between Whitehall officials and the devolved administrations on whether the change would apply to England only, or all four nations of the UK.

The changes were expected as soon as next week, while countries outside the EU and U.S. could be allowed inbound quarantine-free travel at a later date, The Times added.

It comes after aviation firms claimed a trial has demonstrated the UK can safely exempt fully vaccinated U.S. and EU visitors from self-isolation.

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In the Heathrow Airport, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic said their 10-day pilot scheme proved the vaccination status of travelers can be efficiently and accurately checked away from the border.

Around 250 fully vaccinated passengers on selected flights from New York, Los Angeles, Jamaica and Athens earlier this month presented their credentials using paper or digital formats before boarding the plane.

Some 99 per cent of their documents was verified as authentic, with just two passengers’ credentials rejected.

In one case there was a discrepancy between the name on the vaccine card and the name on the passport, while another involved someone who had been fully vaccinated less than 14 days before travel.

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The Department for Transport has committed to a formal review of its rules for arriving travelers before Sunday.

Since July 19, people arriving in the UK from amber list locations, such as the U.S., have had to have received both doses of a vaccine in the UK to avoid the requirement to self-isolate for 10 days.

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The rules excluded those who had been inoculated elsewhere in the world.

BA chief executive Sean Doyle said the trial provides “the evidence the Government needs’’ to allow fully vaccinated visitors from low-risk countries to enter the UK without self-isolating.

He went on: “The UK needs to safely reopen its borders as soon as possible to ensure loved ones can reunite, business can thrive and global Britain is able to take advantage of the UK’s world-leading vaccination programme.’’

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His counterpart at Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss, warned that continuing the UK’s “overly cautious approach’’ towards international travel would harm the economic recovery from the virus crisis and put half a million jobs at risk.

He claimed the trial shows airlines would ensure easing of the amber rules was implemented smoothly at pace.

Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said: “The vaccine has been a miracle of science, and these trials have shown that we can allow fully vaccinated passengers from the EU and U.S. to visit the UK without quarantine.

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“There is now no reason to delay with rolling out the solution from July 31.’’

PA Media-dpa/NAN

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