Chairman, with your permission, I would like to tell you about an overseas trip.
I’ll start by apologizing for sharing your frustration. In fact, the meeting to decide this policy did not take place until Friday, after which it was immediately put in for an oral statement. I appreciate how disappointing it is to read the speculations in the newspaper, many of them turned out to be wrong, and bring new information and accurate statements that Ill will do this afternoon.
The past 18 months have been a very disappointing time for anyone wishing to travel abroad, as well as for the travel industry itself. The only weapon we have to fight the spread of COVID in 2020 was simply to distance ourselves from people doing everything but the most urgent travel.
However, this year has made very significant progress.
In February, the Prime Minister called on the global travel task force to reconvene to develop plans for safe and sustainable travel with the return of international aviation. A framework that allows us to coexist with the endemic COVID-19 and live with the virus while traveling, protecting us from the most dangerous strains.
Through the work of the Task Force in recent months, we have instigated a gradual reopening of international travel to help families and friends reunite and businesses to get moving again.
Over the summer we implemented several improvements.
Utilizing progress in vaccine dissemination at home and abroad, we have launched a pilot to allow fully vaccinated passengers in the UK, Europe and the US to travel from the Amber List countries to the UK without the need to self-isolate. Alternatively, we increased the number of countries and territories on the green list to 43 in September 2021 with our Day 8 test. The traffic light system allowed the full resumption of international cruises.
Now at this final checkpoint, I’m delighted to be able to further ease restrictions while protecting public health and giving travelers confidence.
As one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, with more than 8 out of 10 fully vaccinated, we must capitalize on that to restore the freedoms inevitably lost in the last 18 months.
Expansion of immigration policy
You may remember that the House of Representatives launched a pilot project in the US and Europe last August to exempt fully vaccinated people from quarantine.
This pilot has been a success and we are happy to provide the much needed boost for international travel during the summer.
During this crisis, Ive maintained regular contact with my opponent, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and when Prime Minister Lim arrived in the United States they agreed and I am delighted to be able to present to the House of Representatives today (September 20). . 2021) Vaccinated British nationals will be allowed to enter the United States from early November, in return for a policy introduced this summer. And this is a testament to the efforts and progress of the expert working group established after the G7 to resume transatlantic travel, the flagship route for international aviation.
Now, starting October 4, we will extend the policy to several other countries, including Canada and Japan, for those who can demonstrate full immunization status and reach 50 countries and territories.
Chair, the UK will now enable its citizens to benefit from these changes by setting standards that other countries expect to meet in terms of certification. We will be happy to work with anyone who can apply and meet those standards to onboard. And I can tell the House of Representatives today that we are in the final stages of doing this with our friends in the UAE.
Recovery is the best way to support the aviation sector and as one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, we can now use our advantage to further liberalize travel while protecting public health.
I would also like to update the House of Representatives on the next steps to more broadly resume international travel.
With virtually no vaccinated population, our focus was needed to consider countries and regions based on traffic light systems according to risk. But vaccines mean that the emphasis can now shift to individual status instead.
So Im is pleased to announce that we will be introducing a new long-term framework for testing and health measures at the border.
So, starting October 4th, we are replacing the traffic light system with a single red list of countries and simplifying travel if you are arriving from another country arriving from another country. Second, according to vaccination status, fully vaccinated passengers arriving from non-red list in pre-departure screening, if not traveling from red list countries, by the end of October we will conduct a 2-day PCR screening for fully vaccinated passengers arriving from non-red list will move to a new lateral flow inspection system for country. If a passenger tests positive, they will be required to undergo a confirmatory PCR test that will identify and mitigate the risk of variants entering the UK by sequencing them. Those PCR tests no longer cost travelers.
These changes will reduce costs for passengers, streamline international travel procedures and eliminate serious complaints.
Chairman, I would like to take this opportunity to confirm that our policy on children is that if you currently live in the UK or in one of the 50 countries, regardless of your immunization status, you will be treated the same as a vaccinated adult. . Countries and regions that recognize vaccination.
Non-vaccinated passengers, passengers with unapproved vaccines or passengers with certificates not yet certified in the UK will still undergo pre-departure testing, 2-day and 8-day PCR testing, even if they arrive from a non-red list country. and must self-isolate.
I can also speak to the House of Representatives today about another important relaxation of the rules for those who change flights or international trains as part of their trip here today. This change will require passengers remaining at airports and train stations to follow only those measures related to the country of departure and not the country through which they transited as part of their travel.
This will make a huge difference to your travels by unlocking public transport routes around the world.
Before switching to the new international travel framework, I can confirm that Kenya, Oman, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Egypt will be removed from the red list on Wednesday 22nd September at 4am.
Chairman, the changes we are making mean simpler and more intuitive systems. Fewer tests and lower costs allow more people to travel around the world, meet loved ones, or do business.
Our judgment is that these changes are appropriate for the moment and make travel much easier for people while maintaining critical protections against variants of concern that remain the greatest threat. They will provide vital vitality to the travel industry.
But this is not the end of the story. We will further review these measures at the beginning of the new year in a different context so that we can go one step further ahead of the booking window for our Spring and Summer 2022 vacations.
And best of all, the changes I announced today show that there is a way back to normal after sweltering 18 months, when a lot of things we took for granted with vaccinations were put on hold. It is time for us to move our country once again. And I recommend this statement to this House of Representatives.
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