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Article from BTNews 20 SEPTEMBER 2021

Major Covid rule change

Will travel, including business travel, take off over the coming months? 

That is the question that is being asked after an announcement on Friday by Grant Shapps, Transport Minister, that the heavily criticised border traffic light system is to be rationalised from 4 October.  PCR tests will no longer be required for fully vaccinated travellers returning to England at a date to be announced.

At the same time Bangladesh, Egypt, Kenya, the Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey would come off the red list.

Huw Merriman, the Chairman of the Commons Transport Committee, said the changes addressed the Committee's criticism of "confusing watchlists and quarantines", the delay in "reaping the benefit" of vaccination levels, and the high costs of PCR tests. It would seem the Government has acceded to the Committee’s advice.  (See BTN 13 September.)

Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, said: "This is a positive step which moves us much closer to the reopening of UK aviation and provides greater reassurance to passengers desperate to travel.

Not all are universally happy – Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic, said: "We urge the UK Government to use the Prime Minister's upcoming visit to the USA to work with the Biden administration to remove transatlantic restrictions for UK citizens, just as the UK has done for US travellers."  For Brits wishing to travel to the United States for business (including the upcoming IATA AGM in Boston) there is still the purgatory of American paperwork which asks “if you believe that your travel is in the US national interest and you would like to be considered for an exception to Presidential Proclamation” you might be approved. BTN waits!

Grant Shapps said: "Today's changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system.  "Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy and with more than eight in ten adults fully vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape."

Also see ON TOUR – Boston in this week’s BTN.

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Peter Smart , Luthermuir

The head mistress has seen sense. Last week we experienced Jersey's streamlined system. Complete a pre-arrival form on line. Get a QR code by return. Present QR code and evidence of double vaccination on arrival, get a FREE PCR test on the spot and away to hotel. PCR result on phone in under 12 hours. So slick.

Peter Smart , Luthermuir

Once more the devolved administrations are doing their own thing based on the advice they have received from their public health experts. So passengers arriving in Scotland will need to take a PCR test before departure and within 2 days of arrival, even where fully vaccinated. Effectively all non-red zone arrivals will be treated as amber. Another potential nail in the coffin for Scottish airlines, airports and connectivity. Whilst Newcastle and Manchester are likely to gain.