All remaining COVID travel restrictions have now been lifted for passengers entering the UK.
As of 04:00 GMT, unvaccinated arrivals will no longer have to take tests – the rule had already been lifted for the vaccinated – and passenger locator forms have been scrapped.
It comes almost exactly two years after the first COVID lockdown measures were imposed in the UK.
Travel bosses said lifting the rules was the “final game-changer”.
Aviation minister Robert Courts said: “Everything we have worked for – every jab, every test, and the sacrifices made by the whole country means that finally, nearly two years on, we can all travel without bureaucratic restrictions.”
The government said the change had been deliberately timed before the Easter holidays, but added that contingency plans had been drawn up to respond to any future COVID variants.
Derek Jones, chief executive of Kuoni, a tourism company, said bookings had surged in recent months.
“The removal of all travel restrictions is the final game-changer – people can now go on holiday or visit family and friends overseas without all of the stress that comes with testing before they return home,” he said.
“Finally, we’ve seen the back of the unpopular and ineffective passenger locator forms, which were always a hassle to complete. Travel has been in turmoil for two years but now it’s back.”
However, UK travellers are still advised to check the rules for the countries they are visiting – as many still have restrictions and testing requirements in place.
The removal of the rules marks the end of a rapidly-changing – and often complex – set of COVID rules for people arriving in the UK.
People were first advised against all non-essential international travel in March 2020.
Later that year, passenger locator forms for arrivals were introduced, along with ”travel corridors” – with people arriving from countries outside the corridors having to self-isolate at home for up to 14 days.
Other rules have included pre-departure and post-arrival tests; hotel quarantine for some arrivals; and a “traffic light” system of red, amber, and green countries.
The traffic light system could often cause short-term changes to people’s plans as countries moved from one colour to another.
In a further complication, all four nations could set their own rules – meaning there were sometimes different restrictions in different parts of the UK.
More recently, changes have been agreed by all governments in the UK. (BBC)