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Holiday bookings predicted to surge as testing rules relaxed

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

From 4am this morning UK arrivals no longer need to take a Covid test before flying, or do a PCR test on arrival in the UK.

The strict rules were introduced in November when the Omicron variant was first identified. 

From the end of November UK arrivals needed to take a PCR test within two days of arriving in the UK and isolate until receiving a negative result.

From early December travellers aged 12 years and over also needed to take a PCR or lateral flow test before they travelled to England from abroad.

But from today, the rules revert to those we had in October. This means those fully vaccinated arriving in England will just need to take a lateral flow test no later than the end of day two after arriving and, if positive, a further PCR test to help identify any new variants at the border.

The rule change is expected to see an increase in the number of people booking holidays, with shares in travel firms already benefiting, the benefits of using an online booking system

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The relaxation of testing rules is the late-late Christmas present the travel industry had been holding out for. 

“With Omicron now rampant across the UK, ministers heeded calls from travel and tourism bosses, frustrated that the complexity of the rules had led to a crisis of confidence in the travelling public. With the threat of being left stranded abroad due to a positive test result no longer hanging over tourists, there is real hope that companies will see a surge in bookings after what’s been a festive washout. 

“There is still likely to be some reticence among travellers in the short term who may be keen to avoid busy transport hubs due to spiking infection rates, but with so many holidays delayed over the past two weeks, the prospects for the crucial spring/summer period now look much brighter.” 

Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, said: “This is a hugely welcome move at a critical time in the booking season for passengers, and will provide a massive boost to those wanting to travel abroad or come to the UK this year. People will now be able to book knowing that – for the fully-vaccinated – all emergency testing restrictions have been removed. 

“Today marks an important step towards learning to live alongside the virus, helping passengers and the travel sector look ahead to what will be an all-important spring and summer season.”