Thu | Sep 16, 2021

UK eases travel restrictions as industry lobbies for more

Published:Monday | August 2, 2021 | 2:52 PM
A passenger arrives from a flight at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport in London, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021. Travellers fully vaccinated against coronavirus from the United States and much of Europe were able to enter Britain without quarantining starting today, a move welcomed by Britain's ailing travel industry. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

LONDON (AP) — Britain opened its borders to fully vaccinated travellers from the United States and the European Union on Monday as travel industry leaders urged the government to further ease restrictions and allow people to enjoy the benefits of a successful COVID-19 inoculation programme.

The new rules came into effect amid reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government may add a new category to Britain's traffic light system of travel restrictions, a move industry officials say would make many people decide to stay home.

As of Monday, fully vaccinated travellers from destinations on Britain's “amber list” are allowed to enter the country without self-isolating for up to 10 days.

The government is considering creating an amber watchlist to warn people about destinations that may be downgraded because of rising infection rates or the emergence of new variants.

“An amber watchlist will be viewed as a massive red flag, which is likely to cause bookings to those countries on that watchlist to collapse,” Huw Merriman, chairman of the House of Commons' Transport Committee, told the BBC.

“In my view, we don't need any more uncertainty, complexity or anxiety for passengers or this beleaguered sector. It just needs clarity.”

British airlines and holiday companies are hoping for a late summer travel boom after the pandemic halted most international travel, slashing profits and threatening thousands of jobs.

The number of passengers travelling through London's Heathrow Airport, the UK's busiest airport, fell 75% in the first half of this year.

David and Susan Handfield were among the first beneficiaries of the new travel rules Monday, seeing their granddaughter Charlotta for the first time after she and her parents stepped off a flight from Berlin.

Charlotta was born in February but virus concerns and travel restrictions prevented her parents from bringing her to London until now.

Her grandmother greeted her with a delicate kiss to the forehead at Heathrow Airport.

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