The UK’s final Covid travel rules will be scrapped at 4am this Friday, the government announced today.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said complex Passenger Locator Forms will no longer be required for people flying into the country.
The requirement for unvaccinated travellers to take Covid tests before and after arrival will be scrapped at the same time.
Mr Shapps – who has been pushing for the move for months – tweeted: “All remaining Covid travel measures, including the Passenger Locator Form and tests for all arrivals, will be stood down for travel to the UK from 4am on 18 March.
“These changes are possible due to our vaccine rollout and mean greater freedom in time for Easter.”
While Mr Shapps did not specify which area of the UK he was referring to, his announcement is understood to cover the whole of the UK.
It is one of the last planks of the Government’s plans for “living with Covid” – despite infections rising in all four UK nations for the first time since the end of January.
Covid levels in Scotland are already at a record high, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics.
The numbers for hospital patients with Covid were also rising, up 19% week-on-week in England.
Hospital admissions with coronavirus in England remain well below the peaks reached during the Omicron and previous waves, while in Scotland the figure was close to the record peak seen in January last year.
Asked if Covid restrictions could return, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “At the moment we don’t see anything nearing the sorts of pressures we saw at the peak of the pandemic.
“We obviously will always have contingency plans.
“But the Prime Minister and others have talked about how vaccination and therapeutics mean we do not need to return to the lockdowns of the past.”
The Department for Transport said contingency plans will be kept in place – but quarantine hotels will be “fully stood down” at the end of this month.
The time-consuming passenger locator forms require people to fill in travel details, their address in the UK and vaccination status.
They have been used to track people after outbreaks of the virus.
They are currently required by all arrivals coming to the UK from outside Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK – the industry body representing UK carriers, welcomed the announcement, saying it sends the message that “the UK travel sector is back”.
“With travellers returning to the UK no longer burdened by unnecessary forms and testing requirements, we can now look forward to the return to pre-Covid normality throughout the travel experience,” he added.