Boris Johnson grilled for being on ‘holidays’ by Angela Eagle
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But details of whether children over the age of 12 would be allowed in if they had not been vaccinated were not clear last night. Boris Johnson said the breakthrough was “a fantastic boost for business and trade” as well as enabling family and friends to be reunited. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said it was “important for our economic recovery and trade”. The ban, introduced 18 months ago by then president Donald Trump, meant tennis star Emma Raducanu’s family were unable to watch her recent victory in the US Open in New York.
The announcement is a major boost for airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic as well as airports like Heathrow and Gatwick.
They have repeatedly blamed the travel ban for limiting the recovery of passenger numbers. Heathrow has gone from being Europe’s busiest airport in 2019 to 10th, behind rivals such as those in Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt.
Before the pandemic 3.8 million Britons visited the US every year, according to the Foreign Office. The timing of the change in policy by the US was unexpected, coming after Mr Johnson had told reporters: “I don’t think we’re necessarily going to crack it this week.”
Speaking in New York yesterday, he said: “We have done it faster than we expected but that’s thanks to the hard work of our teams.”
White House Covid co-ordinator Jeff Zients, who announced the end of the travel ban, said all foreign visitors would need to demonstrate proof of vaccination as well as proof of a negative test taken within the previous three days.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognises people who have received the Pfizer, Moderna or Janssen jab as fully vaccinated, but travellers who have had the AstraZeneca vaccine will also be able to enter because the US acknowledges its approval by the World Health Organisation. Airlines will be required to collect contact information from international travellers so they can be traced if required.
British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said: “Today’s news, which will see our two nations reunited after more than 18 months apart, marks a historic moment and one which will provide a huge boost to global Britain as it emerges from this pandemic.
“We are immensely grateful to the Prime Minister and his government for all the hard work that’s gone into securing this deal with the US. Our customers should now feel that the world is re-opening to them and they can book their trips with confidence.” Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said the easing of restrictions is a “major milestone to the
reopening of travel at scale”.
He added: “The UK will now be able to strengthen ties with our most important economic partner, the US, boosting trade and tourism as well as reuniting friends, families and business colleagues.”
Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said: “Connectivity between the US and the UK is part of the bedrock of the global economy. The Prime Minister has secured a massive win for global Britain in getting these links restarted.”
After announcing the lifting of the US travel ban in the Commons yesterday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs: “We’ll now expand the policy to an array of other countries, including Canada and Japan, from October 4 for those who can demonstrate their fully vaccinated status.
“That will bring the number of countries and territories to 50.”
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