UK Drops All COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

The UK government removed all remaining restrictions early Friday morning.

A passenger heads through the transit system between terminals at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, Jan. 7, 2022.
Photo: Tim Ireland/Xinhua via Getty Images

After two long years of pandemic-related restrictions, the UK has officially scrapped all existing COVID-19 travel measures.

Beginning at 4 a.m. on Friday, passengers traveling through London Heathrow Airport no longer need to provide a passenger locator form or a negative COVID-19 test from unvaccinated travelers, the UK government announced this week.

"The UK is leading the world in removing all remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions, and today's announcement is a testament to the hard work everyone in this country has put in place to roll out the vaccine and protect each other," Transport Secretary Grand Shapps said in a statement. "I said we wouldn't keep travel measures in place for any longer than necessary, which we're delivering on today – providing more welcome news and greater freedom for travelers ahead of the Easter holidays.

The UK first began scaling back COVID-19 restrictions in February, when the pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement was eliminated for vaccinated travelers.

Also this week, London's Heathrow Airport said goodbye to the mandatory mask mandate in a social media announcement.

When it comes to airlines, regional carrier Jet2 has become the first airline to ditch mask-wearing on board, though only for flights traveling within England and Northern Ireland.

Additionally, British Airways' chief operating officer Jason Mahoney, confirmed to Travel + Leisure, that beginning Wednesday, passengers will only be required to wear a mask on the carrier's flights if their destination requires it. Adding, "our customers are able to make a personal choice, and we kindly request everyone respects each other's preferences."

The Washington Post also reported that Virgin Atlantic will slowly be changing their mask mandates as well, and will no longer require them on domestic flights, according to a statement from chief customer and operating officer Corneel Koster. Virgin Atlantic and British Airways flights to the U.S. will require masks.

Despite the rollback of COVID-19 restrictions, the UK is still reporting more than 552,000 positive COVID-19 cases this week, a 38 percent increase from the previous seven days. Approximately 67 percent of the population has received their booster dose, according to government data.

Other European countries are beginning to follow the UK in the removal of facial coverings in public areas. France has suspended their vaccination pass and lifted mask rules, the country's Prime Minister Jean Castex tweeted. France now requires mask-wearing only on public transportation.

Both France and the UK are currently listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as "level 4" destinations to "avoid" due to high levels of COVID-19 transmission

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