England Scraps Pre-Departure Covid Tests

PCR testing

Testing and border measures are changing for fully eligible fully vaccinated travelers arriving in England. The travel industry has welcomed the scrapping of pre-departure tests for people traveling to England.

As data shows Omicron is the dominant variant in the UK and spreading widely in the community it is now proportionate to cautiously reduce testing measures at the borders.

Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday afternoon that from 04:00 GMT on Friday, fully vaccinated travelers coming to England will no longer have to take a test before they travel.

And from Sunday, rather than taking a PCR test on day two of arrival, they can take a cheaper lateral flow.

Johnson said that the travel industry had argued that the latest Covid variant Omicron was so prevalent these measures have a limited impact on the growth in cases while continuing to pose a significant cost to our travel industry.

According to the new rules, from 04:00 GMT on Friday 7 January, people who are fully vaccinated and those aged under-18 will no longer need to take a test two days before traveling to England from countries outside the UK and the Common Travel Area. On arrival, they will have to take a PCR test but they will no longer have to self-isolate while awaiting the result.

From 04:00 GMT on Sunday 9 January, they will only have to take a lateral flow test instead of a PCR test on day two. But this test must be bought from a private test provider - free NHS tests are not allowed.

Anyone who receives a positive result on their lateral flow test must self-isolate immediately and order a 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.

Unvaccinated passengers must continue to take a pre-departure test, PCR test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8 and self-isolate for 10 days. ‘Test to release’ remains an option for unvaccinated people to shorten their self-isolation period.

Proof of vaccination from over 15 further countries and territories will be accepted for entry into England from 4am 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.

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 4am on Monday 10 January.

No countries have been added to the UK travel red list, which remains on standby. A further review of all travel measures will be carried out later in the month, and our long-term goal remains to return to safe, restriction-free travel as soon as it’s safe to do so.

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