| 26 February 2024, Monday |

Britain, facing airline pressure, considers easing restrictions for vaccinated travelers

Britain is considering reducing travel restrictions for persons who have been twice vaccinated, a move that would appease airlines that have threatened legal action over the government’s severe limitations on international travel.

The aviation industry is under increasing pressure, with airlines pleading for limitations to be eased in time for July and the peak season, when they make the majority of their profits, while Britain insists on quarantine regulations that discourage flying.

Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, is poised to file papers on Thursday to take legal action against the United Kingdom over its travel policies.

However, Britain has now indicated that a relaxation could be on the cards.

On Thursday, the country’s Department of Transport said it was looking into how vaccinations may be utilized for inbound travel. More than half of adults in the United Kingdom have got two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination, placing the country ahead of the rest of Europe.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Britain is considering following the European Union’s lead and allowing fully vaccinated travelers to avoid COVID-19 tests and quarantine beginning in July.

On Thursday, a government official stated, “We have begun work to explore the role of vaccinations in establishing an alternative set of health and testing requirements for inbound travel.”

Ryanair, along with British Airways and easyJet have repeatedly called on the government to allow vaccinated travelers to avoid quarantine, as well as for an easing of restrictions to some lower risk countries.

The chief executive of Ryanair has called the UK’s travel policy “a shambles”, and such is the airline’s frustration that it now wants to sue the government over its “opaque” system for classifying travel destinations as green, amber or red.

Under plans being considered by the government, people who have had two doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be allowed to avoid quarantine on their return from amber list countries, although they will still have to be tested, the Daily Telegraph said.

When asked about the claim, Jesse Norman, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, told Sky News on Thursday that nothing has been ruled out in terms of reopening travel.

“I wouldn’t write anything out at this moment because we’re trying to move slowly and gradually in the right path,” he said.

Last month, Britain allowed foreign travel to resume, but practically all important locations, including Spain, France, Italy, and the United States, were left off its safe list, requiring ten days of quarantine and repeated testing as amber countries.

The government announced in April that it would review its travel policy before the end of June, and the safe green list is set to be revised on June 24.

  • Reuters