Coronavirus testing for fully vaccinated travelers arriving in England will be scrapped, Boris Johnson has announced.
The Prime Minister has not confirmed when the travel rules will be relaxed, but it is expected to happen before the February break.
This will be a major boost for travel agencies and families planning a trip abroad.
During a visit to hospital in Milton Keynes on Monday, Mr Johnson said: ‘What we are doing on travel, to show this country is open for business, open for travellers, you will see changes so that people who arrive no longer have to take tests if they have been vaccinated, if they have been double vaccinated.
The announcement only applies to England, but the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have recently implemented Westminster’s changes to international travel rules.
Fully vaccinated arrivals must currently pre-book and take a post-arrival test with a private provider.
This can be a lateral flow test, which usually costs around £19.
The PA news agency understands that other changes mean that fully vaccinated arrivals will only have to complete a simplified version of the passenger locator form.
It is also expected that vaccines used by more countries will be recognized for travel, and the rules for travelers who are not fully vaccinated will be relaxed.
Arrivals who are not fully vaccinated must currently take one test before departure and two PCR tests after arrival, which are more expensive than the lateral flow version.
They must also self-isolate for 10 days.
EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren welcomed the update, saying “millions of our customers” will be “delighted to see the return of unrestricted travel to the UK”.
He continued: “We believe that travel testing should now definitely be a thing of the past.
“It is clear that travel restrictions have not significantly slowed the spread of Omicron in the UK and so it is important that there are no more knee-jerk reactions to future variants.”
He added that the airline intended to return to “close to 2019 flight levels this summer”.
Abby Penlington, director of ferry trade association Discover Ferries, said the industry expects to see an increase in bookings following the relaxation of the rules, as they will make travel “easier, cheaper and strengthen further consumer confidence.
She continued: “The financial impact of testing, especially on families, has been an additional barrier to vacationing abroad during the pandemic.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will announce details of the new travel regulations in a statement to the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, following a meeting of the Cabinet’s Covid-19 operations committee.
The changes come after major airline bosses wrote to the government demanding an end to coronavirus travel restrictions.
In the letter, they called for unrestricted travel to be reinstated “at least” for those who are fully vaccinated.
The letter was signed by the executives of Ryanair, easyJet, Loganair, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Jet2, as well as the chief executives of holiday travel group Tui and trade body Airlines UK.