Tourism businesses have hailed the ‘final game changer’ as all remaining Covid travel measures are removed even as cases continue to rise in the UK.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said lifting the requirements, which include pre-travel testing for those who have not been vaccinated, would allow “greater freedom in time for Easter” to go abroad.

After a meeting with senior ministers on Monday, he confirmed the measures were ending for travel to the UK from 4am on Friday as part of the government’s plans to “live with Covid”.

The removal of all travel restrictions is a game-changer – people can now go on holiday or visit family and friends abroad without all the stress of testing before returning homeDerek Jones, Kuoni

The Department for Transport (DfT) said a “range of contingency measures” would be kept in reserve so ministers could take “swift and proportionate action” in the face of potential new variants.

The department said they would only be “implemented in extreme circumstances”, but it was understood the measures would include targeted testing of a country that has seen a new strain emerge.

Demand for overseas holidays has surged since the start of the year and there is a new “air of positivity” in the industry, airline executives said in response to the move.

Derek Jones, managing director of Kuoni, a tourism company, said bookings had increased in recent months for destinations including the Maldives, Mauritius, the Caribbean and Europe.

“Removing all travel restrictions is a game-changer – people can now go on holiday or visit family and friends abroad without all the stress of testing before returning home,” a- he declared.

People want to leave, and there’s a real air of positivity in the industry now.Tim Alderslade, Airlines

“The trip was upside down for two years, but now it’s back.”

Mr Jones-branded passenger locator forms used to track people after virus outbreaks, which are among the measures to be scrapped on Friday, “unpopular and ineffective”.

Time-consuming forms require people to fill in travel details, their UK address and vaccination status.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines, said “now is the time to get back to the skies” as travelers prepare for Easter and summer.

“People want to leave, and there’s a real air of positivity in the industry now,” he said.

I said we wouldn’t keep travel measures in place any longer than necessary, which we’re delivering today – delivering more welcome news and greater freedom to travelers ahead of the Easter holidayTransportation Secretary Grant Shapps

Aviation Minister Robert Courts said: “Everything we have worked for – every shot, every test and the sacrifices made by the whole country means that finally, almost two years later, we can all fly without bureaucratic restrictions.”

He added that he “hoped (d)never to see a day” when the restrictions were reintroduced.

The Transport Secretary said: “I said we would not keep the travel measures in place any longer than necessary, which we are delivering today – delivering more welcome news and greater freedom to travelers ahead of the Easter holidays.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the government would continue to monitor potential new variants, but the latest restrictions could now be lifted due to the success of the vaccination programme.

The move comes as coronavirus infections rise in all four UK countries for the first time since late January, according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

The number of hospital patients with Covid was also increasing, up 19% week-on-week in England.

On Wednesday, another 91,345 confirmed cases were reported.