Could the last few UK travel restrictions be scrapped next week?

Ministers expected to debate continuation of passenger locator form and final testing rules

<p>Travel rules and paperwork have been greatly simplified since 7 January</p>

Travel rules and paperwork have been greatly simplified since 7 January

Anticipation is growing that the UK’s passenger locator form may be scrapped next week, with the last few travel rules for unvaccinated people also up for debate.

Ministers are expected to discuss the continuing existence of the health tracking form - which has been around since June 2020 - as well as the remaining requirement for unvaccinated travellers to test either side of journeys to the UK, in a scheduled meeting next week.

If all remaining rules were scrapped - including the two tests still needed for those who haven’t had the jab - it would herald the return of completely frictionless travel for travellers to and from the UK.

So what does this mean for your spring travel plans?

Here’s everything we know so far.

When might the passenger locator form be scrapped?

Following reports that transport secretary Grant Shapps was pushing for an end to the PLF before the Easter holidays (beginning 4 April), some industry sources are suggesting that the form is likely to go by the end of next week.

Yesterday, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary added to calls from travel industry figures such as the CEOs of Heathrow and Gatwick Airport to scrap the form.

“It’s a shambles,” he told the Daily Mail. “They should ditch it, it’s completely irrelevant. Nobody collects them, nobody checks them or follows up on them.

“They were designed to pretend that the politicians were doing something to protect people.”

It comes as several nations axe their Covid-related health tracking forms: Ireland abolished its form on Sunday and Belgium will axe its form this Friday, while Greece is ending its version on 15 March.

Meanwhile in February Iceland ended all of its Covid-related rules, including entry requirements for tourists, as did Norway.

However, on Wednesday a government spokesperson told The Independent: “No decisions have been taken on removing the requirement for passenger locator forms.

“We continue to simplify the passenger locator forms as part of our efforts to make travel easier.

The form was simplified for vaccinated travellers only in January, following the decision to drop all testing and isolation requirements for those who have had two jabs or more.

So there is a possibility it will be simplified rather than axed altogether at this stage.

Meanwhile, the meeting itself could be shelved due to the developing situation in Ukraine.

Could tests for unvaccinated travellers end?

The picture for unvaccinated testing rules is less clear.

Since 11 February, unvaccinated travellers have had to take a Covid test (antigen or PCR) in their country of departure before returning to the UK, as well as booking a “day two” PCR test for within the two days after day of arrival, as well as completing a PLF.

They no longer have to isolate on arrival, unless their day two test is returned as positive.

Industry sources say the government is set to debate these remaining measures in a scheduled meeting next week, with the possibility that unvaccinated travellers will soon be able to move freely without any test requirements for entering the UK.

A move to return to “normal” travel rules could be in line with the government’s Living With Covid plan, as announced on 21 February: this included plans to scrap free lateral flow tests for Britons and the end of the legal requirement to self-isolate when you test positive.

However, some feel it will continue to aid the vaccination and booster jab rollout if unvaccinated people are subject to tighter travel rules.

A government spokesperson said: “We will keep all measures under review and will be updating on our contingency plans to fight any new variants ahead of Easter.”

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