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Pre-departure travel tests to be scrapped

January 6, 2022 4:36 am
[Source: BBC]

Doubly vaccinated passengers will no longer have to take pre-departure Covid tests in England from 04:00 GMT on Friday, the government has said.

They will also not be required to self-isolate while awaiting test results after arriving in England.

If they arrive after 04:00 GMT on Sunday, people need to take a lateral flow test by day two and if positive, a further PCR test.

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The test changes come after travel firms called for them to be removed.

After the emergence of the Omicron variant, the government said all travellers over the age of 12 must show proof of a negative test lateral flow or PCR test taken within two days of setting off for the UK.

Fully vaccinated people are also currently required to pay for a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival, while those who aren’t must take pre-booked PCR tests on both day two and day eight after arriving, and self-isolate for 10 days.

Travellers currently must pay for private tests rather than using free NHS tests.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the pre-departure test “discourages many from travelling for fear of being trapped overseas and incurring significant extra expense”.

The announcement comes after airlines said passenger testing was making no real impact, with data last week suggesting one in 25 people in England had the virus.

They also said compulsory testing had held back the sector’s recovery.

Mr Johnson met his cabinet earlier and alongside changes to travel tests, the government has said it will ease Covid testing rules 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 rule change will come into force on 11 January and apply to England only for now.

Following the announcement for England, Health Minister for the Welsh government Eluned Morgan said: “I have today 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.”

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