Following the emergence of the Omicron variant, England has implemented a vaccine passport for various indoor venues and large venues from next Wednesday. England has also tightened COVID-19 restrictions.
Speaking at a press conference at Downing Street, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “We will make the NHS Covid pass mandatory for entry into nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather.”
The Places Where Travelers Require The Vaccine Passport
Although it’s the first time England has introduced a vaccine passport, it’s less strict than many countries and U.S cities.
Travelers will require the vaccine passport to enter outdoor settings of more than 4,000 people, indoor settings of more than 500 people, and any setting with over 10,000 attendees, including music and sports stadiums.
However, the British government will not require the vaccine passport for communal worship, wedding ceremonies, funerals, and other commemorative events or protests.
If travelers can’t show proof of vaccination, they’ll need to provide evidence of a negative lateral flow test. The Prime Minister said the government may update the requirements to include a booster dose.
Boris Johnson said the new measures were part of a “proportionate and responsible” attempt to curb the spread of the new Omicron variant, which is doubling every 2-3 days in the United Kingdom.
However, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government had “no plans” to make domestic vaccine passports mandatory.
England’s New Entry Requirements
The United Kingdom recently changed its entry requirement to include a mandatory pre-departure COVID-19 test, regardless of vaccination status. All travelers over 12 must submit evidence of a negative lateral flow test or PCR test taken within 2 days of departure to the United Kingdom.
On top of that change, the U.K has expanded its travel red list. From December 6, the U.K added Nigeria to its list of banned nations. The current list includes Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
As a result, only British and Irish travelers from these nations can fly to the U.K, and they’ll have to complete a mandatory quarantine in a government hotel at their own cost.
The United Kingdom will review the changes to the travel restrictions from December 20. The British government wants to know whether the Omicron variant poses a serious risk to the country before dropping travel restrictions.
The British travel industry criticized the new travel restrictions. Clive Wratten, the CEO of Business Travel Association said, “The introduction of pre-departure testing with little warning is a hammer blow to the business travel industry. Public safety is a priority, but businesses will fail, travelers will be stranded and livelihoods devastated by the lack of coherent plans from the government.”
The COVID-19 Situation In England
The current 7-day average in the United Kingdom is 40,950 cases. However, cases have remained steady since the United Kingdom dropped all COVID-19 restrictions in July. England has fully vaccinated 69.8% of its population after administering 99.5 million vaccine doses.
In response to the Omicron variant, England has reintroduced its mask mandate. Masks are now compulsory for customers and staff in the following venues:
- Hairdressers, tattoo studios, and nail bars
- Post offices and banks
- Estate agents
- Vet surgeries
- Auction houses
- Driving lessons and tests
In England, police and Transport for London can fine travelers without masks £200 for their first offense. That drops to £100 if travelers pay within the first 14 days.
England joins its European neighbors in increasing travel restrictions and implementing vaccine passports following the emergence of Omicron.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories