The British government said on Monday that it would scrap its remaining international travel measures this week, noting it was one of the first major economies to do so and calling the move a â€œlandmark moment.â€
After nearly two years, Britain has been at the forefront of efforts to end coronavirus pandemic restrictions and shift toward a strategy of living with the virus, relying on vaccines to offer protections.
â€œThese changes are possible due to our vaccine rollout,â€ Grant Shapps, the British Transport Secretary, said on Twitter, â€œand mean greater freedom in time for Easter.â€
According to the British government, about 86 percent of the population has received a second vaccine dose and 67 percent a booster or third dose.
On Feb. 24, the government stopped legally requiring people in England to self-isolate if they tested positive for the virus; Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which set health measures separately, have also moved to ease restrictions. Since then, cases have gone up, but the number of deaths has stayed stable, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Starting on 4 a.m. on Friday, travelers will no longer be required to fill out a passenger locator form with details about their trip and their vaccination status. Those who are not fully vaccinated will no longer be required to get tested to enter the country.
â€œTodayâ€™s announcement sends a clear message to the world â€” the U.K. travel sector is back,â€ Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK, a trade group, said in a statement. â€œWe can now look forward to the return to pre-Covid normality.â€
Last month, Iceland announced it would drop coronavirus requirements at its border regardless of the travelerâ€™s vaccination status. In Ireland, starting on Mar. 6, entering passengers were no longer required to show proof of vaccination status or fill out a passenger locator form.
Londonâ€™s Heathrow Airport said that starting Wednesday, masks would no longer be mandated in the airportâ€™s terminals, rail stations or office buildings. Masks are already no longer required indoors in England, but the airport said in a statement that it still strongly encouraged people to wear them.
British Airways, the U.K. flag carrier, and the British airline Virgin Atlantic said they were also revising their mask requirements.
As of Wednesday, passengers on British Airways flights will only have to wear masks onboard if their destinations require it, Jason Mahoney, British Airwaysâ€™ chief operating officer, said in a statement.
Corneel Koster, the chief customer and operating officer for Virgin Atlantic, said that the airline would also scrap mask requirements on routes where international mask-wearing regulations did not apply, starting from flights to the Caribbean from Heathrow and Manchester.
â€œCustomers should have the personal choice whether to wear a mask onboard,â€ Mr. Koster said in a statement, adding that masks would still be required on many of their routes, including those into and out of the United States, until at least April 18.