What are the UK’s new travel rules? Omicron sees strict testing and isolation return

Omicron: International travel restrictions criticised by expert

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced stricter entry rules for travellers arriving into the UK from abroad. The news comes following the discovery of new variant of concern, Omicron.

What do travellers have to do before entering the UK?

All arrivals coming into the UK from abroad must continue to fill in a passenger locator form. This must be done in the 48 hours before travel.

Fully vaccinated arrivals from eligible countries no longer need to take a coronavirus test before setting off, however they must be able to prove they are fully vaccinated.

Eligible countries include the UK and EU, as well as several other nations such as Hong Kong, Pakistan, India and Turkey.

Passengers who are not fully vaccinated are required to take a PCR or lateral flow test in the three days before travel to the UK. Free tests from the NHS cannot be used for the purposes of facilitating travel.

Unvaccinated arrivals must also quarantine at home for 10 days after arrival in the UK, as well as take a PCR test on or before day two and on or after their return.

What are the new rules for testing on arrival?

As of 4am on Tuesday, November 30, 2021, all arrivals entering the UK from a foreign country will be required to take a PCR test on or before day two.

Cheaper lateral flow tests will no longer be accepted, regardless of whether or not you are double jabbed.

While passengers are awaiting their results, they must self-isolate at home. Quarantine rules apply to all arrivals, regardless of vaccination status.

The test must be from a private provider, as set out on the Government’s approved list. NHS tests will not be accepted for travel purposes.

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Rory Boland, Which? travel editor said:“Travellers will understand the rationale behind the government’s decision to reintroduce mandatory PCR tests for those returning to the UK, but there is confusion from travellers already abroad about exactly which documentation is required and whether people are entitled to refunds for unused lateral flow tests.

“In the past, travellers have been badly let down by a dysfunctional PCR testing market that left them exposed to extortionate prices and unreliable providers. The government’s official list of PCR test providers is still rife with companies promoting misleading prices and we are yet to see any meaningful action from the CMA’s audit of the private testing system.

“Now that the government has taken the decision to reintroduce mandatory PCR tests, it must swiftly implement the CMA’s recommendations for private testing and ensure safe, reliable and affordable tests are available for all travellers. In the meantime, we urge those thinking of travelling to only book with providers that have a good record of providing test kits and processing results on time.”

What are the latest red list changes?

The Government has reinstated the red list in recent days, with only UK or Irish citizens or UK residents permitted to enter from one of these “high risk” nations.

Arrivals must isolate in a Government approved hotel for 10 days (11 nights) at their own expense.

This is a cost of £2,285 for one adult, £1,430 for an additional adult or child over 11 and £325 for a child aged between five and 11.

Countries currently on the UK’s red list include South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and Zambia.

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