The government has announced that all legal Covid social distancing and mask-wearing restrictions will be dropped from 19 July in England, the so-called Freedom Day, asking instead for Britons to use their own judgement when it comes to evaluating the risk of the disease.
These changes apply to England and relate to activities within its borders.
But what about international travel? The sector has had a very rocky start since it tentatively reopened on 17 May, allowing holidays to a slim list of “safe” countries alongside onerous restrictions such as pre- and post-departure testing.
But will the traffic light system also be dropped alongside obligatory mask-wearing and social distancing?
Could the system be dropped from 19 July?
In his speech to parliament as the new health secretary, Sajid Javid said that “we have to learn to live with” Covid, and that 19 July will mark the unlocking of society.
In his Downing Street press conference, prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed this stance, asking people to use their own judgement when it comes to managing their own activities, and for guidance on masks and social distancing to be guidance only.
However, while within the UK people will be free to live their lives with fewer restrictions, it won’t apply to international travel – yet.
The risk of a Covid variant being reimported remains high, and so restrictions from “red list” countries will remain in place as part of “tough border controls”, Mr Johnson confirmed on 5 July.
What if I am fully vaccinated?
The prime minister confirmed in a Downing Street briefing on Monday that the government would “work with the travel industry towards removing the need for fully vaccinated arrivals to isolate on return from an amber country”.
Currently all arrivals from amber countries – which covers most of Europe – have to self-isolate for 10 days and take two post-arrival PCR tests, regardless of vaccination status.
Mr Johnson said on 5 July: “Recognising the protection afforded by two doses of vaccine, we will work with the travel industry towards removing the need for fully vaccinated arrivals to isolate on return from an amber country.
“And the transport secretary will provide a further update later this week.”
The Department for Transport said in an update: “In recognition of our successful domestic vaccination programme, and as part of the Global Travel Taskforce’s checkpoint review, our intention is that later in the summer, arrivals who are fully vaccinated will not have to quarantine when travelling from amber list countries.
“We expect this to occur in phases, starting with UK residents. They will still be required to take a pre-departure test and a test on Day 2, and any positive results will be sequenced to continue to manage the risk of importing variants.”