UK Travel Changes: Pre-Departure COVID Test and Red List Addition

UK Travel Changes: Pre-Departure COVID Test and Red List Addition

The British government has added compulsory extra COVID-19 checks for everyone aged 12 and over travelling to the UK from any foreign country.

This is in addition to the PCR test on arrivals that was introduced on 30 November.

The move applies for travellers arriving from 4 AM on Tuesday, 7 December. All arrivals must take a pre-departure test, which can be PCR or LFD COVID-19 test before they travel to England.

Travellers are exempted from taking the test regardless of vaccination status if they depart from the following destinations:

  • Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Jersey or Guernsey
  • Ethiopia
  • Falkland Islands
  • St Helena or Ascension

A negative certificate will need to be presented to the airline, shipping firm or train operator before departure. In addition, each traveller aged five or over (from aged 11 in Scotland) must book a post-arrival PCR test.

Addition to UK’s Red List

Nigeria joins the 10 southern African countries on the UK’s red list.

Arrivals from Nigeria must enter “managed isolation”, as hotel quarantine is known, for 11 nights. They join travellers from 10 southern African countries.

The change is in response to concerns about the spread of the omicron variant of coronavirus. It follows 21 cases of omicron reported in England that were linked to travel from Nigeria.

British and Irish citizens, or those with residence rights, arriving to England from countries on the red list – which includes South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Angola and soon Nigeria – are required to book a managed quarantine hotel in advance.

The quarantine package will include a quarantine hotel, quarantine transport and a travel test package for COVID-19 tests on day 2 and day 8 of quarantine.

Travel Rules for Unvaccinated

The rules remain almost the same for unvaccinated individuals arriving in England. A pre-departure test two days ahead which was previously three days, PCR tests booked for days 2 and 8 and self-isolation for 10 days. Travellers can reduce quarantine to 5 days in England if they take a “test to release” halfway through.

All these additional travel-related measures will be reviewed after three weeks, on 20 December.

With two very significant changes in the space of a week, many travellers will think that the risk of being caught by hotel quarantine or unexpectedly high testing costs render journeys unpredictable.

What are your thoughts on these restrictions? Talk to us in the comment section below.

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