UK Reduces Travel Restrictions Permitting International Cruises

International cruises can resume from England
International cruises can resume in August from England (Southampton file photo)

Published Jul 28, 2021 3:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

In the next phase of the COVID-19 regiments, the UK government announced that it is going to again permit some international travel, including cruises, as well as reducing the restrictions to enter England for individuals that have received vaccinations under approved programs in Europe and the US. The announcement is seen as a boost both to the struggling cruise industry and will provide added revenues to English ports.

Starting in August, international travelers arriving from the US and European countries except France will no longer be required to quarantine in England. They will still be required to complete both a pre-departure test for COVID-19 and a test two days after arrival. The rules, however, still require a 10-day quarantine for arrivals from France, and those vaccinated in the US will be required to prove US residency.

UK Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps also Tweeted the news that the government had decided to permit cruise ships sailing from England to visit international destinations. Cruise ships have been prohibited from international destinations since the summer of 2020, but starting in May were permitted to operate sea voyages or trips to ports in the UK. The current decision builds on a memorandum of understanding with the cruise industry on safely building back operations.

“Following the close monitoring of epidemiological evidence, gained through the restart of the domestic cruise industry earlier this year, the UK government has also confirmed the go ahead for international cruise sailings to restart from England,” the Transportation and Health and Social Care departments said in their joint statement. The government is instructing travelers to remain aware of the dangers and take precautions, but is reducing its previous guidance to avoid cruise travel.

The cruise lines immediately hailed the decision. While firms indicated they would complete their current programs of domestic cruises before adding cruises to Europe, several have already announced plans for international cruises starting in the fall in anticipation of the revision in the policy. Some cruise lines said they might start adding international ports to some of their current cruises.

“We’ve taken great strides on our journey to reopen international travel and today is another important step forward. Whether you are a family reuniting for the first time since the start of the pandemic or a business benefiting from increased trade this is progress we can all enjoy” said Shapps. However, oppositions leaders immediately criticize the policy as risky while Shapps highlighted that the opposition had called for similar steps a month ago.

The government is also relaxing the testing requirements for certain critical workers, who by the nature of their work do not mix with the public or leave their vehicles helping free up running times by removing undue burdens.

The British Ports Association also welcomed the news of the relaxing of travel restrictions to England highlighting that tourism and cruises are an important activity to ports, as well as the coastal regions. Richard Ballantyne, Chief Executive at the British Ports Association said, “We are delighted the UK Government has today announced that international cruise can restart in England from August 2, after a lengthy 16 months of no international sailings. The successful restart of domestic cruises in England two months ago has demonstrated how ports, cruise lines, government, and health officials have been able to work together to ensure the health and safety of passengers, crew, and destinations are an absolute priority. We are hopeful that the devolved administrations will follow suit shortly as we begin the gradual move towards normality.”