LONDON - Fully vaccinated travelers arriving in Britain will no longer have to take a COVID-19 test, transport minister Grant Shapps said on Monday, as the government sets out plans to move beyond restrictions and live with the virus.
Currently, vaccinated people arriving in Britain are required to take a lateral flow test within 2 days of arriving. At times, the government has previously also required all passengers to take tests before departing for Britain.
"We promised we wouldn't keep these measures in place a day longer than necessary and it is obvious to me now that border testing for vaccinated travelers has outlived its usefulness," Shapps told parliament.
From 0400 GMT on Feb. 11, fully vaccinated inbound passengers will only have to verify their status on a passenger locator form, he said. For now, fully vaccinated will not include a requirement to have had a booster jab. Under 18s are treated as fully vaccinated passengers.
Those who do not qualify as fully vaccinated will no longer have to isolate, or take a test on day 8. They will still have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before travelling and take a PCR test after arriving in Britain, he said.
"This is a proportionate system that moves us a step closer to normality while maintaining vital public health protections," Shapps said.
Britain will also add 16 further nations, including China and Mexico, to its list of recognized vaccine certificates.
Shapps said the option for a "red list" of countries would remain in place to provide a defense against new variants of concern, but the government was looking at replacing its managed quarantine system with alternatives such as home isolation.
"These contingency measures will only be applied if we are particularly concerned about a variant of concern which poses a substantial risk, one that is even greater than Omicron," he said. (Reporting by Kate Holton and Kylie MacLellan; editing by James Davey and Paul Sandle)