COVID and Travelling: UK’s Travel Restrictions During The Pandemic


England was one of the first countries to impose strict travel restrictions during the onset of the pandemic. While these measures were necessary to curb the spread of the virus, many argue that it is now time to relax some restrictions in order to let life go back to normal.

Senior cabinet ministers in the UK have sat down on multiple occasions to discuss whether travelers should be allowed in the country. At the moment, UK’s travel restrictions have been narrowed down to three lists: red, amber, and green. As the names suggest, travelers from countries in the red list are required to have a negative PCR test before arrival and observe a 10-day quarantine upon arrival. Travelers from countries in the amber list are only required to present a negative PCR test upon arrival, but they must be fully vaccinated in order to avoid the 10-day quarantine.

Vaccination rules also happen to be slightly complicated for travelers in England. If you have been fully vaccinated in the UK, then you are not required to observe the 10-day quarantine upon arrival. However, this exemption does not extend to travelers who have been fully vaccinated anywhere outside the UK.

While the travel industry had suffered immensely due to restrictions and bans in 2020, many thought that strict measures were essential back then. However, as the world eventually goes back to normal, having such complicated vaccination rules only makes it difficult for people to visit their loved ones in the UK.

Even checking vaccine certificates tends to be a time-consuming task for airport staff. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Heathrow Airport all participated in an extensive 10-day trial that displayed the possibility of checking travelers’ vaccination status before their arrival. If individuals can have their vaccination certified before getting on the plane, things can be much smoother at Heathrow. 99% of the travelers during the 10-day trial had their vaccination status verified correctly, including 250 fully vaccinated individuals flying in from US, Europe, and the Caribbean.

The relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions and quarantine rules is becoming a necessity to ensure that the tourism industry can continue to flourish. Every decision is taken after thorough discussions between government ministers to ensure that the best interest of the country is taken into consideration. 

Further decisions to relax some of the restrictions or to add more countries to the amber list may be imminent, but they will certainly take a few weeks to put into effective practice.

Airline staff are the ones that need to be prepared for such an influx of travelers since it happens to be their responsibility to check the vaccination status of every individual on each plane. While it may be a tedious task, the UK must consider how other countries have significantly relaxed restrictions to cater to more travelers. However, some countries like the US are still reluctant to allow British travelers to cross the borders due to a high risk of virus mutation and new strains of the coronavirus being discovered.