UK to scrap passenger locator forms and testing for unvaccinated travellers from Friday

Passengers queue to check in, at Heathrow Airport in London.
Passengers queue to check in, at Heathrow Airport in London.   -   Copyright  Frank Augstein/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
By Rosie Frost

All remaining Covid travel restrictions will be scrapped in the UK from Friday.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed in a tweet that all remaining measures “including the Passenger Locator Form and tests for arrivals will be stood down for travel to the UK from 4am on 18 March.”

He added that the changes were possible because of the country’s vaccine rollout and will mean greater freedom in time for Easter.

This announcement means that even passengers who are not fully vaccinated will no longer have to take COVID-19 tests before or after travelling to the UK. Passenger Locator Forms (PLF) are also being scrapped at the end of the week.

Travellers entering the UK currently have to complete a PLF, regardless of vaccination status. Unvaccinated arrivals over the age of 18 must also take a PCR test before travelling to the UK and on day two after they enter the country. They have to self isolate until receiving the results of that test.

But from 18 March these restrictions will end with the removal of the UK’s remaining travel rules.

Travellers do still need to be aware, however, of the restrictions in the country that they are travelling to.

Mixed reactions to the end of UK travel restrictions

Scotland and Wales will follow England in dropping all travel restrictions. But Welsh Health Minister Eluned Morgan has said she is doing so “reluctantly”.

“I am extremely disappointed the UK Government is planning to remove all the remaining border measures, including removing the passenger location form and testing requirements,” she said in a written statement.

I am extremely disappointed the UK Government is planning to remove all the remaining border measures.
Eluned Morgan
Welsh Health Minister

Morgan added that if PLFs were withdrawn, they could take three weeks to recommission making monitoring passengers from overseas “unworkable” if a new variant were to emerge.

“A system of surveillance linked to international travel is vital to help us identify any new variant quickly and as early as possible.”

The travel industry, however, has welcomed the move saying it is a “return to pre-Covid normality.”

“The removal of all remaining Covid travel measures is a watershed moment for the travel industry,” says Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA, the British trade association for tour operators and travel agents.

“With no more tests or forms to fill in on return to the UK, travel is finally starting to return to normal and many more people will have the confidence to go ahead and book a long-awaited holiday.”

Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers says it “sends a clear message to the world - 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.”