London: Ending a diplomatic row over vaccine certification, the UK government on Thursday added India to its vaccine-eligible countries list for Covishield, which would mean fully vaccinated Indians will no longer be required to quarantine on arrival in Britain from October 11.
Eligible travellers vaccinated in over 37 new countries, including India and Pakistan, will be treated the same as returning fully vaccinated UK residents, so long as they have not visited a red list country or territory in the 10 days before arriving in England, the Department for Transport said.
Those arriving before the cut off date of October 11 would still need to follow the rules for unvaccinated travellers.
The UK has further opened up international travel and will recognise India's vaccine certification system from October 11. The decision was taken after close technical cooperation between our ministries taking public health factors into account, a spokesperson for the British High Commission in New Delhi said.
The extension of vaccine certification is a further step to enable people to travel more freely again, in a safe and sustainable way, while protecting public health, the spokesperson said.
From October 11, Indian travellers who have received both doses of Covishield or another UK-approved vaccine at least 14 days before arrival in the UK can travel without having to quarantine; will not be required to take a pre-departure test nor take a day 8 test following their arrival.
Those not fully vaccinated with one of the four UK-recognised vaccines (Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen) or any formulation of these vaccines, including Covishield, must take a pre-departure test, and must take a Covid-19 test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8, and self-isolate for 10 days. Travellers can also choose to shorten their home quarantine to around 5 days under the Test to Release service.
The updated travel guidance for India states that the county will be added to the list of countries and territories with approved proof of vaccination 4 am Monday 11 October.
UK government sources said efficacy data and information on vaccine rollout internationally is kept under review, implying talks around the wider recognition of other India-made vaccines remains ongoing.
The announcement follows a diplomatic row after the UK had included Covishield in its approved vaccine formulations but refused to recognise Indians vaccinated with it as eligible for travel without quarantine measures. India had imposed reciprocal measures, requiring vaccinated British travellers to also quarantine at a declared destination on entry into India.
The latest announcement on travel includes 47 countries and territories being removed from the UK red list travel ban. Passengers returning to England from these destinations will no longer be required to enter hotel quarantine.
Restoring people's confidence in travel is key to rebuilding our economy and levelling up this country. With less restrictions and more people traveling, we can all continue to move safely forward together along our pathway to recovery, said UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
The updated rules also allow for cheaper lateral flow tests as opposed to PCR tests.
We're now making it easier and cheaper for people to travel by allowing fully vaccinated travellers from non-red list countries to use Lateral Flow Tests on Day 2 of arrival, as long as they provide proof of use, said UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid.