Travelers to U.K. Will No Longer Face COVID Restrictions Beginning Friday

Travelers entering the United Kingdom will no longer face COVID-19 restrictions starting this week, according to the transportation secretary.

Due to the vaccine rollout, all travel measures will be suspended for those entering the U.K. starting on Friday at 4 a.m. which will make travel easier for the upcoming holidays, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps posted on Twitter.

The new announcement comes as positive coronavirus cases in the U.K. have increased for the first time since January. Over 444,000 people tested positive in the past week, an increase of 48 percent from the week prior, according to data from the U.K. government.

Those traveling to the U.K. were previously required to fill out a passenger locator form including their travel details such as where they were staying and their vaccination status. Additionally, people who were unvaccinated had to take a PCR test prior to departure and two days after arriving in the U.K. These restrictions will no longer be in effect beginning this week.

"As we learn to live with COVID-19, we're taking further steps to open up international travel once again ahead of the Easter holidays," Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said. "We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants and keep a reserve of measures that can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe."

Meanwhile, Heathrow Airport also announced Monday that they would no longer require passengers to wear face coverings in the terminals beginning on Wednesday. Although the requirement will end, they strongly encourage passengers to wear masks, especially when coming into close contact with others.

"Heathrow will maintain a wide-array of COVID-secure measures – including enhanced ventilation in all terminal buildings – which will help keep people safe on their journeys through the airport," the airport said in a statement.

"Should a significant rise in COVID cases or a future variant of concern materialise, Heathrow will not hesitate to reinstate the mandatory use of face coverings at the airport."

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are following closely behind Heathrow by dropping mask mandates on some of their flights. The airport said that airlines are preparing to lift the requirement as soon as regulatory requirements for their destinations allow. However, passengers should still check individual airline requirements for wearing face masks onboard.

"We believe our customers should have the personal choice whether to wear a mask onboard," said Cornell Koster, Virgin Atlantic's chief customer and operating officer. "This policy will be introduced gradually, beginning with our Caribbean services from Heathrow and Manchester airports."

Koster added masks would still be required on several international flights, including to the U.S., until April 18 "at the earliest." The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced on Thursday they were extending mask mandates for one month, when it was initially set to expire on March 18.

Update 3/14/22, 5:30 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.

U.K. COVID Travel Measures Ending
Above, travelers arrive at Gatwick Airport on July 30, 2021, in London, England. Restrictions to and from the U.K. remain in place as the coronavirus continues to disrupt global travel. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images