End of the pandemic? Loosening of some Covid restictions in the UK

After almost two years, the British government decided to loosen most of the restrictions introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is no longer obligatory to wear face masks, show covid certificates, or to work remotely. Even compulsory isolation in the event of a coronavirus infection is expected to be removed at the end of March. Great Britain, despite the persistent high number of infections, decided to take this step because the omicron variant turned out not to affect the efficiency of the British health service so much.

From February 11, fully vaccinated people will be allowed to enter the UK without showing a negative test for Covid-19. Traveling between Poland and Great Britain in the era of the coronavirus is still not easy however, and it is Brexit that contributes to this fact. Poland, almost simultaneously with the announcement of the loosening of entry restrictions by the British, decided to tighten the regulations for people arriving from Great Britain. They must show a negative result of a PCR or antigen test, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not. Interestingly, the test is not required for those arriving from neighboring Ireland. The main reason is that Ireland is part of the European Union, while Great Britain is counted among the countries outside the EU and the Schengen zone. Polish migrants who want to visit their relatives are still oblidged to get tested and in case of being Covid positive, they are not allowed to go, which means that travels between Poland and the UK are still an uncertain venture.

The pandemic overlapped with Brexit and our research showed that it was difficult to separate the two issues when asking about uncertainty. Often rapidly changing Covid regulations, inability to predict how the situation will look like when we were trying to get back home, fear to get infected, months of separation with families in Poland – all that seemed for most of the time to be more important than trade agreements and the necessity to show the passport at border control. End of the pandemic may start to reveal true impact of Brexit. When people will start to travel more frequently and without fear, they will realise how the new political situation truly impacts them now.

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