Arriving passengers queue at UK Border Control at the Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London. | HANNAH MCKAY

Fully vaccinated visitors from the European Union and United States will soon be able to avoid quarantine after arriving in England, the government confirmed on Wednesday, in a huge boost for airlines and travel companies.

Britain's travel industry has heavily criticised the government for being too slow to open up and fretted that the delays have allowed the EU to race ahead in attracting tourists.

The BBC reported that the decision had already been made after the government's COVID Operations committee met earlier but it is not known when the change will come in to force.

A government source told Reuters earlier that it would start from as early as next week.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier on Wednesday on LBC radio that he wants U.S. citizens to come to England "freely" and is discussing a travel corridor with the United States.

Any loosening in England would likely be followed by the rest of Britain.

Shares in British Airways were up 3% while easyJet rose 4% and Wizz Air jumped 5%, as investors hoped that the changes would boost demand for travel, prompting airlines to add more flights.

Within Europe, the change will lead to a two-way flow of traffic, but for the transatlantic carriers British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, planes will primarily be carrying U.S. citizens to England because the United States continues to bar nearly all non-U.S. citizens who have been in Britain.

Johnson hopes he can change that. He told LBC that he is talking to the U.S. about a travel corridor, which would involve travel in both directions.