England to Relax Quarantine for Vaccinated U.S., EU Visitors

This content was published on July 28, 2021 - 07:47

(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. government is set to allow visitors from the U.S. and the European Union to travel to England without needing to quarantine on arrival if they have been fully vaccinated.

The plan will allow American visitors, along with travelers from most EU countries, to enter the U.K. on the same basis as Britons who have received two Covid shots. U.K. residents are are no longer required to self-isolate when returning from most medium-risk countries.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his senior team are due to discuss and finalize details of the policy at a meeting Wednesday, people familiar with the matter said. The change in policy could come into force as soon as next week, they added.

If the plans proceed as officials expect, they will deliver a significant boost to Britain’s aviation and travel sector, which has lagged the recovery in continental Europe.

American tourists on European holidays this summer have bypassed the U.K. to avoid quarantines. And while vaccinated Britons are now able to travel with less hassle to Spain or Portugal, EU residents haven’t been able to easily make the trip to see tourist attractions like the Tower of London.

Read more: Heathrow CEO Sees U.K. Ready to Let In Vaccinated Americans

While the U.K. government’s decision will ease the barriers to travel from the U.S., the Biden administration is not likely to reciprocate any time soon. Last week, the U.S. government advised Americans to avoid traveling to the U.K. because of a surge in coronavirus infections.

“We want people to be able to come from the U.S. freely in a way that they normally do. We’re talking to them the whole time,” Johnson said in an interview with LBC radio Wednesday. “At the moment we’re dealing with a delta wave, the U.S. is dealing with a delta wave, but be assured that we are on it the whole time.”

European Visitors

As Johnson’s government has eased restrictions in recent weeks, interest in foreign holidays has surged, especially for Britons aiming to visit neighboring European destinations.

Low-cost carriers such as Ryanair Holdings Plc, EasyJet Plc and Wizz Air Holdings Plc have added capacity, though most of the action is still in the EU. With a U.K. easing in the works, more relief is on its way.

“This is absolutely positive,” Wizz Chief Executive Officer Jozsef Varadi said in an interview, referring to EU-U.K. travel. “It’s a move that is long overdue and needed to happen. It makes sense for both parties.”

Shares of EasyJet, the most dependent on the U.K. among the three discounters, advanced as much as 4.4% on Wednesday. Ryanair added 1.9% and Wizz, which has been expanding into the U.K. from its Hungarian base, gained 4.7% after predicting a return to pre-pandemic capacity levels by August in its quarterly results report.

Read more: Wizz Air Targets Return to Pre-Pandemic Capacity by August (1)

British Airways owner IAG SA, which would benefit from more traffic between the U.K. and the U.S., rose as much as 3.4%.

Under rules that went into effect earlier this month, Britons who have received both doses of a Covid vaccine no longer have to quarantine for 10 days after returning to the U.K. from more than 100 countries on the so-called “amber list” of medium-risk locations.

Instead they must take Covid tests before setting off on their journeys to the U.K. and again after arriving. Similar rules on testing are expected to apply to travelers from the EU and the U.S., under the reforms being drawn up by ministers.

Passengers will also need to show proof of Covid status via so-called vaccine passports.

(Updates with airline shares, summer traffic from fourth paragraph)

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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