United Kingdom

UK tightens travel rules with pre-departure Covid tests required for arrivals

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it was because of an ‘increasing number of cases linked to travel’. (Picture: PA)

Travellers heading to the UK will have to have a Covid test before their departure in a bid to stop the Omicrom variant spreading.

The rule applies to new arrivals as well as residents returning from a holiday and will come into force from 4am on Tuesday December 7.

Tests must be taken a maximum of 48 hours before the departure time, regardless of vaccination status.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it was because of an ‘increasing number of cases linked to travel’.

Nigeria has also been added to the UK travel red list, meaning most travel is banned and returning UK citizens must quarantine in a government approved hotel for 10 days at the cost of £2,000.

It is the 11th country to be added to the red list since the emergence of Omicron in South Africa last week.

Mr Javid said Nigeria ‘is second only to South Africa for cases linked to Omicron’.

‘Over recent days we have learned of a significant number of growing cases linked to travel with Nigeria,’ he said.

‘There are 27 cases in England already and that’s growing.’

Mr Javid acknowledged that the measures are ‘hugely unfortunate’ for people who already had travel plans, but insisted that they would be ‘temporary’.

‘We want to remove them as soon as we possibly can,’ he added.

He also urged the public to get vaccinated, saying ;vaccines remain our first line of defence’.

The government has already announced that people arriving in the UK must self-isolate until they get a negative result from a PCR test.

The measure came into force earlier this week, alongside the return of mandatory masks in shops and public transport.

Boris Johnson has insisted people should enjoy Christmas festivities as normal amid fears more restrictions are on the way.

It is hoped border measures and an accelerated booster programme will be enough to stop a new wave of infectious.

Scientists say the new variant has a higher rate of re-infection, but a study yesterday said it is likely boosters will offer protection against Omicron, preventing deaths and hospitalisations.

The government is aiming to offer all adults in England a third dose by January, with the time between second and third shots slashed to three months.

he introduction of pre-departure Covid tests for travellers entering England has been branded a “devastating blow” for travel by the chief executive of the Airport Operators Association.

Karen Dee said that the policy, beginning on December 7, will act as a “major deterrent” to travel.

‘This is a devastating blow for aviation and tourism,’ she said.

‘Pre-departure tests act as a major deterrent to travel and most of the limited remaining demand following the reintroduction of self-isolation will now fall away, just as airports were hoping for a small uplift over the Christmas holiday.

‘Travel and aviation are the only sectors hit with any operating restrictions in response to the Omicron variant.

‘The UK and devolved governments should have done the right thing and, alongside the restrictions, announced support for our businesses and our staff to get through another period of shutdown.’

This is a breaking news story, more to follow soon… Check back shortly for further updates.

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