UK PCR tests on pre-departures are to be slashed for inbound travellers in the latest shake-up to Covid restrictions in the destination.
From 04:00 am on Friday the 7th of January, fully vaccinated, travellers coming to England will no longer have to take Covid tests before they travel.
They can take a cheaper lateral flow from Sunday onwards, rather than taking a PCR test on day two of arrival.
However, the rules for self-isolating on arrival is also set to change.
The shake-up was confirmed by Boris Johnson earlier, following calls from travel firms who said the measures were not effective now that Omicron was spreading widely.
What test do I need to take before I travel?
- Under the current travel regulations in force until Friday, all fully-vaccinated travellers over the age of 12 must show proof of negative tests lateral flow or PCR test taken two days before arriving in the UK.
- Fully vaccinated travellers must also pay for a PCR test within two days of arrival and self-isolate while waiting for the result.
- People who aren’t fully vaccinated must take PCR tests on days two and eight after arriving and self-isolate for 10 days.
- From 04:00 am on Friday the 7th of January, fully vaccinated people and those under-18 will no longer need to take a test two days before travelling to England from countries outside the UK and the Common Travel Area.
- They will have to take UK PCR tests on arrival and will no longer have to self-isolate while waiting for the result.
- From 04:00 am on Sunday the 9th of January, travellers will only have to take lateral flow tests instead of UK PCR tests on day two. (Bought from a private test provider – free NHS tests are not authorised)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the pre-departure UK PCR tests discourage many from travelling for fear of being trapped overseas and incurring significant extra expense.
This announcement follows after airlines said passenger testing was not impacted, with data last week suggesting one in 25 people in England had the virus. And compulsory Covid tests had held back the travel sector’s recovery.
Mr Johnson met the cabinet earlier; along with changes to travel tests, the government announced it would ease Covid tests for people without symptoms, who will no longer need to confirm a positive lateral flow test with a PCR.
On Tuesday, Mr Johnson said he hoped the country could ride out the current wave, although he acknowledged parts of the NHS would feel temporarily overwhelmed.
That change of travel rules is set to take place from the 11th of January and apply to England only for now.
Following the announcement for England, the Health Minister of the Welsh government, Eluned Morgan, said that he has reluctantly agreed to remove the requirements for fully vaccinated travellers and under 18s to take a pre departure test (PDT) and a day 2 PCR test when arriving in the UK.