When is Covid’s next travel update and what can we expect to change?
All fully vaccinated adults traveling to the UK are currently required to take a pre-departure test, a day 2 PCR test and isolate themselves until they receive a negative result on the second test. Unvaccinated travelers face tougher restrictions. The regulations differ slightly for children depending on their age. However, the tests can add hundreds of pounds to the price of a family vacation.
The UK’s toughest test stipulations have been in place since December 7; an update is scheduled for January 5th.
The last travel update was delivered on December 14 and saw 11 countries in South Africa removed from the red list, including South Africa and Namibia. It was confirmed that the travel measures would be reviewed in early January. Previously, an announcement was made every three weeks.
Grant Shapps, the transportation secretary, said: “We are focused on achieving our goal of strengthening for all adults by the end of the year, and while we will maintain our travel testing measures for the time being, we will review this position in the first week of January ”.
Prior to the trip review, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Covid update on January 4 that Britain can “go through the omicron wave” without a nationwide blockade.
The decision not to push for more national restrictions could be a positive signal for travel.
Johnson also said that while talking about the deployment of reinforcements, some countries were already adding reinforcements to their entry requirements.
Tests and changes to the red list are the main part of the agenda of the latest update. However, rapid updates to the border and blockade rules of other countries can make travel plans more difficult or discarded, as discovered by those planning a ski holiday this winter.
France currently allows travel from the UK only for essential reasons, while Germany requires the British to perform a PCR test before the trip, in addition to meeting vaccination requirements. Field testing and vaccine approval rules may also affect vacation abroad. Many other destinations have tightened their borders after the discovery and spread of omicron.
It should also be noted that travel rules are not necessarily all over the UK. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may decide different regulations. That said, they have remained largely the same in all four nations.
What changes can we expect from the latest update?
Pre-departure tests for travel to the UK could be removed after the January 5 update.
Several senior government officials are pushing for the removal of this test requirement, and ministers insist that the rapid spread of the omicron variant has made it useless.
Day 2 PCRs and the requirement to self-isolate until the negative test could also be reconsidered.
Prior to the tightening of testing standards in early December, a side flow test was considered sufficient on or before day two (with the arrival day on day zero) and there was no self-insulation requirement for fully vaccinated adults or children under 18 years of age.
Additions to the red list seem unlikely: high UK infection rates should rule it out. Note that the red category was initially introduced as a mitigation of “concern variants.” Hotel quarantine policy was maintained after the last revision, despite the red list being emptied. The government said it was a “crucial line of defense against the importation of worrying variants”.
What are the current rules?
Evidence remains the most important deterrent to international travel, along with the possibility that a destination country may impose stricter rules of entry or a travel ban. Flight cancellations have also caused interruptions during the Christmas holidays.
All travelers 12 years of age and older should have a Covid-19 test (may be a side flow) for the two days before the trip to the UK, regardless of vaccination status. Children under 12 are exempt from this test.
Arrivals aged five and over must undergo a PCR test on or before the 2nd day. Children under the age of 18 and fully vaccinated adults should be isolated from their accommodation until they receive a negative result (they can go for a test).
The rules are much stricter for those who are not fully vaccinated. In addition to the pre-departure and day 2 tests, they will have to take a test on the eighth day and be isolated for 10 days. NHS Test and Trace contacts them to check that they meet their insulation requirements. If their eighth day test is negative, they can leave their accommodation after the 10th day. Travelers to England can also choose to take a test to be released on the fifth day.
All travelers coming to the UK must also fill out a passenger location form prior to arrival. Children under the age of 18 can be included in the form of an adult staying at the same address. If you enter Scotland, only children under 16 can be included in the adult form. Provisions for this form include the code for a reserved Day 2 test.