15th March 2022
Last modified on March 16th, 2022
The remaining Covid travel restrictions will be gone by this Friday. The government has confirmed it is scrapping the passenger locator form and tests for the unvaccinated. Heathrow Airport and some airlines are removing the need for masks. It has been welcomed by skiers heading out over the rest of the season. UPDATED
The final step will come into force at 4am on Friday 18th March.
The passenger locator form, which everyone arriving in the UK has had to complete, will no longer be a requirement.
Even after the UK removed the need for vaccinated travellers to take a Covid-19 test within two days of arrival in February, the PLF continued.
Now it will be no more.
The end of the Passenger Locator Form is coming
More significantly, the decision to abandon all the existing measures means that people who have not been vaccinated – or aren’t fully vaccinated – will not have to book and pay for tests before travelling to and after arriving in the UK.
Those who are not fully jabbed still face hurdles to travel, however.
Many countries, including ski nations, still either refuse them entry, except for essential reasons, or force them to test, show a recovery certificate or quarantine.
France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy, for example, all have different rules about who they will let in and the circumstances under which they will do so.
The USA will not allow any adult who is unvaccinated to enter, unless they are US Citizens, Nationals or Permanent Residents.
The UK government says that, if new Covid strains emerge in the future, it will use introduce new border controls only in extreme circumstances.
The announcement affects England but Scotland and Wales have said they will follow suit.
The news has been welcomed by the travel industry with the busy Easter and summer period ahead.
“The removal of all remaining Covid travel measures is a watershed moment for the travel industry,” Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA, The Travel Association, said.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Heathrow Airport has said it is dropping its requirement for passengers to wear masks in its terminals, rail stations and office buildings from this Wednesday 16th March.
“We acted quickly to institute face coverings as one of our first lines of defence, and we’re pleased that we’re now able to move away from a mandatory requirement as society learns to live with COVID longer term,” Heathrow’s Chief Operating Officer Emma Gilthorpe said.
“While we still recommend wearing them, we can be confident the investments we’ve made in COVID-secure measures – some of which aren’t always visible – combined with the fantastic protection provided by the vaccine will continue to keep people safe while travelling.”
British Airways is one of the airlines that says it will also drop the masks rule on its aircraft as soon as regulatory requirements for its destinations allow.
British Airways at Geneva – photo © PlanetSKI
“As an international airline we fly to a large number of countries around the world, all of which have their own local restrictions and legal requirements,” Jason Mahoney, BA’s Chief Operating Officer, said.
“We’re working through these and from Wednesday March 16, customers will only be required to wear a face covering on board our flights if the destination they’re travelling to requires it.
“For destinations where the wearing of a face covering is not mandated, our customers are able to make a personal choice, and we kindly request everyone respects each other’s preferences.”
TUI has recently scrapped the requirement to wear face masks on most flights to and from England and Northern Ireland.
It followed Jet2 which was the first major airline to drop mandatory face coverings.
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