England lifts travel restrictions for vaccinated Americans, Europeans

England lifts travel restrictions for vaccinated Americans, Europeans
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England announced on Wednesday that it will begin allowing fully vaccinated travelers from other parts of Europe and the United States to enter the country.

Grant Shapps, England's transportation minister, tweeted that the move comes as the country attempts to help "reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK."

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Shapps said that the new guidelines will be implemented beginning at 4 a.m. on Aug. 2.

Under the new rules, fully vaccinated travelers from the United States and European countries will not have to quarantine upon entering England; however, they will still be required to take a COVID-19 test prior to departing from their countries and to take a PCR test on the second day after arriving in England, Shapps tweeted.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also acknowledged the change was coming during an interview that aired on Wednesday.

“We want people to be able to come from the U.S. freely in a way that they normally do,” Johnson said. “As soon as we have something to say about travel corridors, you’ll be hearing from us.”

Under current rules, people traveling to England from the United States are required to quarantine for 10 days unless they elect to take an extra coronavirus test after the fifth day. Only people who have been vaccinated by the British health system are able to forego the quarantine, The Washington Post reported.

England has seen a 30 percent decrease in new coronavirus infections over the past week, which officials are attributing to effective vaccine rollout.

“We do know that double vaccination hasn’t just protected us domestically. ... [It] has also opened up possibilities for us to look again at international travel," British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, according to the Post.  “And I know, whether it’s businesses or individuals that want to go on holiday, that would be an important step."

Despite those improvements, England and the U.S. are both dealing with the delta variant of the coronavirus, which has been leading to a surge of infections in the United States. 

“At the moment we’re dealing with a delta wave, the U.S. is dealing with a delta wave, but be assured that we are on it the whole time,” Johnson said, according to the Post. “We’ve seen some encouraging recent data. There’s no question about that. But it is far, far too early to make — to draw any general conclusions."

Some critics of the move to reopen England to travelers have cited the spread of variants as a reason to keep the country closed to travelers.

“I am very concerned about the government’s announcement via the press this morning,” Labour Party deputy leader Angela Rayner told Sky News. “We need to make sure that we have got a proper data-driven analysis and that we look at an international passport for vaccines. ... We also know that people who have had the vaccine of course can still get the virus, so a testing regime is very important and crucial as well.