There’s good news for travellers to the United Kingdom today, with the need for Pre-Departure Testing to be scrapped from 4 am today (7th January), as well as PCR Day 2 tests from Sunday 9th January.
The move (which was described as temporary) was a vain attempt to slow the spread of the Omicron variant. Of course, this is now the dominant variant in the UK.
What changes are there?
These apply to fully vaccinated passengers (two doses or more from a UK recognised authority, with evidence). Arrivals to the United Kingdom will no longer need:
- A pre-arrival test
- A PCR Test by Day 2 of arrival
- Self Isolation for two days on arrival
The requirement for a pre-arrival test expires at 4 am, Friday 7th January, whilst the PCR day 2 test requirement expires at 4 am Sunday 9th January.
Instead, you will need
- A Lateral Flow Test will be accepted for your Day 2 test
- You will not need to self isolate during this period – only if your Lateral Flow Test returns as positive.
Anyone who receives a positive result on their lateral flow test must self-isolate immediately and order an NHS PCR test from GOV.UK. Positive PCR tests for arrivals will be sequenced to understand if and where variants are emerging around the globe in order to protect the UK public.
Lateral flow tests for international travel must be purchased from a private provider as NHS Test and Trace lateral flow tests cannot be used for international travel. Passengers who have already bought a PCR to use for travel do not need to buy another test as PCRs can still be used.
The rules for unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or vaccinated by an authority or vaccine the UK Government does not recognise remain the same:
- Pre-Departure Test
- Self-Isolate on arrival
- Day 2 and Day 8 tests are required unless you’ve paid for “Test to Release”
In all cases, a Passenger Locator Form must be completed.
Additions in recognised authorities
Proof of vaccination from over 15 further countries and territories will be accepted for entry into England from 4 am on Monday 10 January: Bhutan, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Fiji, Iraq, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, north of Cyprus, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Solomon Islands, The Gambia and Uzbekistan.
In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently granted WHO Emergency Use List (EUL) authorisation to the 2 versions of the ‘Novavax’ vaccine named Covovax and Nuvaxovid. Therefore, eligible travellers who have received either version of this vaccine will be recognised for international travel into England from 4 am on Monday 10 January.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:
As we learn more about the Omicron variant it is right that we keep our testing and border measures under review to ensure they remain proportionate.
The steps we’re taking will make travel easier for people while protecting the UK public from the virus.
Omicron continues to be a serious threat and it is important that travellers continue to get tested. The most important thing anyone can do if they haven’t already is come forward for their vaccine.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
I’ve always said that we won’t keep international travel restrictions in place any longer than they are necessary to protect public health.
That’s why we’re removing the temporary, extra testing measures we introduced for Omicron in November, making travel easier and cheaper for fully vaccinated passengers and providing a big boost for the travel industry as we enter the peak new year booking period.
We want to provide more certainty to passengers and businesses, and will do a full review of our international travel measures for 2022 by the end of the month.
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