Holiday firms 'ecstatic' as Covid-19 travel restrictions come to an end

Main image: Grant Shapps MP; Inset: A WizzAir plane on a London airport runway

Transport secretary Grant Shapps MP has announced an end to Covid-19 international travel restrictions - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography/Danny Loo Photography/Archant

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced a complete end to international travel restrictions for passengers arriving into the UK, leaving a travel agent his constituency "ecstatic" about the news. 

The restrictions, which were in place to stop the spread of Covid-19 across borders, will be lifted at 4am on Friday, March 18.

Nobody entering the UK will need to take tests or complete a passenger locator form and hotel quarantining capacity will be fully stood down.

Grant Shapps MP announced the move yesterday (Monday March 14).

He said: "The UK is leading the world in removing all remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions.

"Today’s announcement is a testament to the hard work everyone in this country has put in place to roll out the vaccine and protect each other.

"I said we wouldn’t keep travel measures in place for any longer than necessary, which we’re delivering on.

"Providing more welcome news and greater freedom for travellers ahead of the Easter holidays.

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"I look forward to continuing to work with the travel sector and partners around the world to keep international travel moving."

A travel agent in Mr Shapps' constituency, Welwyn Hatfield, has said that she is "really happy". 

Natalie, from Off Broadway Travel in Welwyn, said: "We're ecstatic that everything is being lifted.

"The Passenger Locator Form was the one thing which clients said was the most confusing.

"For us, it's fantastic that holidays are starting up again and it will make it easier for both travel agents and all our customers.

"We're really happy."

London Stansted Airport is on the Essex-Hertfordshire border.

It is the largest single-site employer in the East of England, with 10,000 people from Essex, Hertfordshire and London working on the campus according to the airport's website.

Two passengers get ready for a trip abroad from Stansted Airport on May 17, 2021

Passengers at London Stansted when a ban on foreign holidays was lifted no May 17, 2021 - Credit: Will Durrant

A Stansted Airport spokesperson said: "The removal of all remaining travel restrictions is extremely welcome news for the whole of our industry.

"It releases the huge pent-up demand that exists for international travel, and we will continue to work as hard as we can to prepare our operations for Easter and the summer season after the most challenging two-year period in our history.

"We look forward to working with our partners to welcome people back to our airport in the weeks and months ahead."

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com, said: "Two years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, today’s announcement marks international travel finally returning to normal.

"The removal of passenger locator forms and testing regimes means that customers can at long last enjoy hassle-free travel, just like they did before the pandemic."

A Jet2 advert at London Stansted Airport in Essex

Jet2: "Two years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, today’s announcement marks international travel finally returning to normal" (File photo) - Credit: Will Durrant

The Covid-19 lockdown began in the UK two years ago - on March 23, 2020.

International travel restrictions began to ease on May 17, 2021, but the emergence of the omicron variant saw the rules tightened again in December.

From March 18, the UK government will not impose any border health measures but will keep this under review.

The government has said that it is keeping "a range of contingency measures" so that it can take swift action if coronavirus cases rise significantly again.

Other countries may continue to impose restrictions on international travel.

Easter Sunday falls on April 17 in 2022, with bank holidays on Good Friday (April 15) and Easter Monday (April 18).