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Covid tests for UK arrivals scrapped

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Written by: Emma Lunn
06/01/2022
The government is ditching the requirement for international arrivals in the UK to take a Covid test before departure from 4am on Friday 7 January.

Currently, fully vaccinated travellers into the UK must take a pre-departure test overseas, and receive a negative result to be allowed into the UK. They then need to buy a private PCR test on arrival in the UK and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.

Those who are not fully vaccinated must self-isolate for 10 days after they arrive.

The rules were put in place at the end of November when the Omicron variant took hold. However, attempts to keep this strain of coronavirus out of the UK have proved fruitless with it now the dominant strain in the country.

Prime minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons yesterday that the travel testing rules were to be scrapped from tomorrow.

He said: “When the Omicron variant was first identified, we rightly introduced travel restrictions to slow its arrival in our country. But now Omicron is so prevalent, these measures are having limited impact on the growth in cases, while continuing to pose significant costs on our travel industry.

“So I can announce that in England from 4am on Friday we will be scrapping the pre-departure test, which discourages many from travelling for fear of being trapped overseas and incurring significant extra expense.

“We will also be lifting the requirement to self-isolate on arrival until receipt of a negative PCR, returning instead to the system we had in October last year, where those arriving in England will need to take a lateral flow test no later than the end of day 2 and, if positive, a further PCR test to help us identify any new variants at the border.”

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: “Removing all the temporary travel restrictions is a welcome recognition that they no longer serve a purpose, now Omicron is well-established in the UK. 

“The UK government’s decision follows the same approach some other European countries have taken in recent days, such as the Republic of Ireland. The devolved governments should now follow suit, enabling a continued four-nation approach to travel in the UK. 

“Despite the removal of the temporary measures, airports continue to face a difficult period. There continue to be countries who have imposed restrictions on UK arrivals and consumer confidence has been knocked during the crucial Christmas booking period. The UK and devolved governments should set out how they will support aviation towards a sustainable recovery to ensure the UK has the connectivity and the airports necessary for our economic recovery.”

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