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Grant Shapps Still Won't Confirm Exact Date For UK-US Travel

3 min read

UK-US travel is expected to return in November, but an exact date for the full reopening of the corridor is still to be determined, transport secretary Grant Shapps said this morning.

Shapps said the US is still “working through the technicalities” but is expected to drop restrictions on the arrival of British travellers at some point next month.

“I’ve been speaking to my opposite number and I’ve spoken to the American ambassador a couple of days ago,” Shapps told Sky News' Niall Paterson.

“They’ve said November to us, and obviously we’re working very closely with them because we’d like to see that done so families can reunite and businesses can get together and people can go travelling again,” he added.

Non-US citizens living in the UK and Europe have been banned from travelling to the US since March last year under restrictions imposed by former President Donald Trump, and continued by current President Joe Biden.

Last month the Biden administration confirmed an end to the ban would come into force from November, but the fact that Americans have been able to travel to Europe since earlier this summer has remained a source of frustration. 

“It’s certainly well due, we’re allowing Americans here, we’re recognising their vaccines,” Shapps told Sky News.

Continued uncertainty over the precise date travel to the US will return comes as the Transport Secretary last night announced that 47 countries will be removed from the travel red list, including Brazil and South Africa. 

As of 4am on Monday, only Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Haiti and the Dominican Republic will remain red, meaning people should not visit "except in the most extreme of circumstances".

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office say the significant downsizing of the list is the result of increased global vaccination rates.

“The world is open to you and vice versa for people to come here if you are full vaccinated,” Shapps told LBC’s Nick Ferrari.

In another major travel update, Shapps confirmed this morning that expensive PCR tests will be replaced by lateral flow tests for travellers returning to Britain from overseas.

The new rule will come into force in time for half-term holidays, which for most schools begin on 22 October, and will save some families hundreds of pounds.

Discussing the change on BBC Breakfast, the Transport Secretary said: “My colleagues at the Department of Health and to a certain extent the Home Office border force are working very hard on that now and are looking to make further announcements on how it may work.

“People may just hold off from wanting to book not the holiday itself, but which test they take on return whilst those details are finalised. I spoke to Heathrow last night and they were telling me people will be able in some cases to come through the airport, do the lateral flow test there, and off they go.”

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