Dreaming of a Christmas in London? That could become a reality. The U.K. government has announced the rollback of its 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers entering England, opting instead for a "test-and-release" program that only requires a five day quarantine—as long as the traveler takes a test on day five and produces a negative result. The new program begins on Dec. 15.
Travelers will have to remain at their accommodation for the first five days upon arrival to England, after which they must take a COVID-19 test at their own expense (likely between $90 and $160 per test). Once their results come back—usually within 48 hours—and they're negative, they'll be able to move about England freely. That said, they'll still be subject to local coronavirus restrictions, which for the present moment includes a lockdown that's scheduled to lift on Dec. 2. And if you'd prefer not to be tested, you can still quarantine for 14 days.
Some travelers are already entirely exempt from quarantine: travelers coming from "corridor" countries—an ever-changing list of destinations with low coronavirus infection rates—will remain exempt from all quarantine requirements, as long as they've remained within a corridor country for at least 14 days before traveling to England.
The new test-and-release program not only opens England up to travelers from abroad but also allows Britons to travel internationally themselves without worrying about a lengthy quarantine upon their return home.
“Our new testing strategy will allow us to travel more freely, see loved ones, and drive international business," U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement. "By giving people the choice to test on day five, we are also supporting the travel industry as it continues to rebuild out of the pandemic.”