U.K. To Relax Covid Travel Rules for COP26 Climate Summit
(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. government will ease travel restrictions to allow tens of thousands of government officials, climate advocates and journalists from around the world to attend a major summit in Scotland that starts in October.
The U.K. government had already offered vaccinations to delegates from countries that don’t have access to their own. Now it also plans to ease quarantine and travel rules for them, according to a COP26 official.
The United Nations COP26 talks are expected to be one of the biggest international events the U.K. has ever hosted, with as many as 25,000 people set to descend on Glasgow for two weeks of talks. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been keen to ensure negotiations can take place in person after the summit was postponed last year due to the pandemic.
Johnson wants representatives from the 197 countries attending to agree on ending the use of coal power, a step that’s seen as necessary to keep alive the chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The news comes as a major new report from the world’s top climate scientists warned that the planet will surpass that limit in the next two decades without drastic moves to eliminate emissions. That’s putting pressure on the nations attending COP26 to reach a deal aimed at limiting the extreme weather events that are already becoming commonplace.
To ensure the conference can take place with as many people attending in person, the U.K. government will allow attendees to arrive from about 60 higher risk “red list” countries, the official said. It will also halve the time they need to spend in hotel quarantine to five days for those who are fully vaccinated.
Currently, the U.K. only allows British or Irish residents to arrive from red list countries, such as Brazil, Egypt and Zambia. Even then, each person must pay 2,285 pounds ($3,165) for 10 days of hotel quarantine. The government will also relax the rules around vaccine brands. It will consider anyone to be considered “fully vaccinated” if they have a full dose of any kind of coronavirus vaccine from any country, the person said.
While the details of the funding have yet to be worked out, the U.K. Treasury is considering covering some quarantine expenses, especially for delegates from poorer countries who may not otherwise be able to pay the fees.
Meanwhile, people traveling from lower-risk countries, coded “amber” or “green” will not have to self isolate, even if they aren’t vaccinated, the official said. The U.K. COP presidency will announce the new rules at a United Nations meeting Monday evening, as they have already been approved by ministers in both Westminster and Scotland. The law will be changed via a statutory instrument.
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