Half-term holiday bookings have jumped by 200% compared with August since the government on Friday announced simplifications of travel rules in England, the travel firm Thomas Cook has said.
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, unveiled plans to simplify the Covid rules around trips abroad from next month, scrapping the traffic light system and replacing it with a pared-down “red” list of countries from which arrivals will continue to be required to quarantine in a government-supervised hotel.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the “simpler, more straightforward system” would allow “more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry.”
He said the changes were possible because of Britain’s high vaccination rate. Almost 82% of people 16 and up in the U.K. are fully vaccinated.
Testing requirements for vaccinated travelers from England are also being eased, prompting Labour to voice concern about the spread of variants. From 4 October, passengers who have had both jabs will not need to take a pre-departure test before returning to England from a non-red list country, and from the end of October, a lateral flow test will be accepted in place of a day two PCR test.
Alan French, the chief executive of Thomas Cook, said he expected bookings to increase even further following the rule changes that led to the 200% rise. “Based on our bookings already today, I would expect this weekend to be the biggest of the year so far as people take advantage of the great deals on offer, the new easier rules on testing and the simplified system for international travel,” he said.