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Almost two years since the pandemic began, and plenty of rule changes in between, the government has lifted restrictions.

After two years of mostly non-essential travel advice, the UK government has come full circle to lift all Covid-related restrictions.

The removal of the measures took effect 4 a.m. on Friday, and includes the axing of passenger locator form for arrivals into the UK, as well as all tests for passengers who do not qualify as vaccinated.

As a result, unvaccinated passengers do not need to take a pre-departure test and a day-two post arrival test.

The UK first first advised against all non-essential international travel in March 2020, and today said the new measures reflected the government’s “Living with Covid plan” and the high uptake of vaccines and boosters, with 86 percent of the population having received a second dose and 67 percent of the population with a booster or third dose.

The UK government claimed it was one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining coronavirus travel restrictions, and that it was a “landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector.”

However, since March the number of infections has been steadily rising, raising questions over how permanent the relaxation will be eventually prove.

Despite today’s easing of rules, and a gradual climbdown on the use of masks in the previous weeks, the UK has just seen its biggest fall in domestic and international business travel since the start of 2022.

Business trips departing in the second week of March fell by 50 percent compared to 2019, according to the UK’s Business Travel Association. The first week of March, in comparison, was reduced by 42 percent.

“At a time of increased uncertainty across the world and rising fuel prices threatening our industry, it is disheartening to see a reduction in business travel,” the association’s CEO Clive Wratten. “If this trend continues, we will be in the sad position of needing further government support.”

Data from its partner Travelogix shows there has been an overall $4.5 billion loss in gross domestic product associated to domestic and international travel in the past week, compared to the same week in 2019 — the biggest loss since the start of this year.

“This is the first real evidence of the impact of the devastating war in the Ukraine on international travel. It is particularly clear that the U.S. is once again cautious about travel to Europe and the UK,” Wratten added.

Tags: business travel, coronavirus, coronavirus recovery, corporate travel, covid-19, england, europe, russia, ukraine, united kingdom

Photo credit: International arrivals signage at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Skift