UK: Pre-Departure Travel Tests To Be Scrapped

(BBC) – Passengers will no longer have to take pre-departure Covid tests in England from 04:00 GMT on Friday, the prime minister has announced.

Boris Johnson also said people will no longer have be required to self-isolate on arrival to England.

Instead people can take a lateral flow test on day two, but if the result is positive, a further PCR test will be needed and people will need to isolate.

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 2 and Day 8 after arriving, and self-isolate for 10 days.

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

The prime minister 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.

That rule change will come into force on 11 January and apply to England only for now.

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson said he hoped the country could “ride out” the current wave, although he acknowledged parts of the NHS would feel temporarily overwhelmed.