For much of the pandemic, travel between the U.S. and U.K. has been greatly restricted. But a major rollback in travel restrictions to England and Scotland announced Wednesday is about to make it much easier for fully vaccinated Americans to enter the two countries.
Starting Monday, August 2 at 4 a.m. British Standard Time travelers who are two weeks past their final shot of a vaccine approved by either the European Union or the U.S. are now exempt from the quarantine entry requirement for the two U.K. countries. The quarantine rules have been in place for visitors from “amber list” countries, which includes the U.S. Travelers will need to arrive with a negative PCR test, and take another on the second day of their stay, but will be free to move around upon arrival.
British transport secretary Grant Shapps tweeted that the move is intended to help “reunite people living in the U.S. and European countries with their family and friends in the U.K.”
It is unclear whether other countries in the U.K. will follow suit—currently, Wales and Northern Ireland also require a 10-day quarantine for visitors, including fully vaccinated Americans. Once in the U.K., though, travelers can currently move between U.K. countries without restrictions, meaning that anyone entering the U.K. through England or Scotland could continue on to Wales or Northern Ireland without quarantining. (Wales does not have any requirements for travelers coming from elsewhere in the Common Travel Area (CTA) of the U.K., though Northern Ireland (NI) does ask anyone staying overnight to take a LFD test before travel, and on days two and eight of their stay. Additionally, anyone who has been outside the CTA within 10 days of entering NI must fill out a new Passenger Locator Form.)
Earlier this month, England and Scotland announced that they would allow some vaccinated travelers to avoid quarantine upon arrival beginning July 19, but the major caveat was that eligible individuals had to have received their vaccine in the U.K., via the National Health Service. In effect, this made the rollback only applicable to returning U.K. residents—a letdown for many British citizens living abroad, and Americans with family in the U.K., many of whom have been waiting for the quarantine requirement to lift before visiting.
From August 2 on, fully vaccinated Americans entering England or Scotland will be required to arrive with a negative PCR test taken within three days of travel, pre-book and pay for a test on day two of their stay, and will need to complete a passenger locator form. (To re-enter the U.S., all travelers—including American citizens—need a negative PCR test taken within three days of their flight's departure.)
As part of this announcement on travel restrictions to England, Shapps also tweeted that international cruises to England are now allowed to resume, something the cruise industry and avid cruisers have also been waiting for.
Within England, most other COVID restrictions have been lifted. Masks are no longer required indoors, and even nightlife venues have reopened. The government is encouraging venues that will welcome large crowds to use vaccine passports, though doing so is not legally required, and will be at the discretion of businesses owners. The one restriction remaining in place is the self-isolation mandate for anyone contacted by the government's Test and Trace program. On August 16, this will be relaxed for vaccinated individuals over 18. Restaurants, cinemas, and other attractions are open.
In Scotland, current restrictions are at the lowest “level zero.” Under this category, there are some restrictions on how many households can gather in various spaces—for example, up to 10 people from four households can meet in an indoor public space, and up to 15 people from 15 households can meet in outdoor public spaces—but restaurants and pubs are no longer required to operate on a reservation-only basis, nor with a two-hour time limit on how long guests can stay in any one establishment. Hospitality venues are required to close at midnight, and nightlife venues remain shuttered completely.
The U.S. remains shut to U.K. visitors, though British Prime Minister Boris Johnson went on British radio early Wednesday morning and confirmed that discussions surrounding a travel corridor between the U.S. and U.K. are ongoing, Reuters reports.
This article has been updated with new information since its original publish date.
Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler