WEDNESDAY, July 28, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Starting Aug. 2, the United Kingdom will allow fully vaccinated travelers from the United States into the country without having to quarantine upon arrival, officials there announced Wednesday.
Right now, people who have been vaccinated in Britain don't have to isolate when returning from most "amber list" countries, but that exemption doesn't apply to people who have been vaccinated outside Britain, the New York Times reported.
In just days, Americans who have been fully immunized with a vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will only need to take a coronavirus test before flying and then again two days after arrival, the Washington Post reported. The United States is on the amber list. Most travelers from the European Union were included in the quarantine lift.
"We're helping reunite people living in the U.S. and European countries with their family and friends in U.K.," Britain's Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wrote in a tweet explaining the policy change.
In a shift that is surprising scientists, new coronavirus cases have been declining in Britain despite the fact that experts predicted a powerful surge in cases after the British government relaxed all but a handful of restrictions last week.
Should the trend continue, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have bet correctly that his country could withstand a return to normalcy, despite the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. British Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who is vaccinated but still tested positive on July 19, had predicted that cases could skyrocket to 100,000 a day.
But dropping case numbers haven't yet been enough to convince U.S. officials to stop restricting the entry of British travelers and others into the United States: The Biden administration stood by its policy on Monday, citing concerns that infected travelers may contribute to further spread of the Delta variant across America.
Still, Johnson said Wednesday that he wanted American travelers to come to England "freely," as airline and airport operators have urged authorities to lift restrictions and reopen travel.
Most European countries have been open to American tourists after the European Union recommended lifting a ban on nonessential travel last month. Yet European and British travelers are still mostly banned from coming to the United States, unless they are U.S. citizens.
Visit the U.S. State Department for more international travel restrictions.
SOURCE: New York Times, Washington Post