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England Scraps Pre-Departure Testing Requirements

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Travelers planning to visit England can now anticipate smoother and more convenient arrivals.

Updated travel criteria for arrivals into England were announced by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on January 5, 2022.

Fully vaccinated passengers entering England will no longer be required to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test or undergo quarantine upon arrival, beginning at 04:00 on January 7, 2022. A PCR test is still necessary after arrival until 4:00 a.m. on January 9, 2022.

Fully vaccinated passengers coming in England after 4:00 p.m. on January 9, 2022, can choose to take a lateral flow test instead of a PCR test.

PCR testing (average cost $110 / £ 80) are substantially less convenient and expensive than lateral flow tests (average cost $40 / £30).

Anyone who receives a positive lateral flow test result should immediately self-isolate and order an NHS PCR test from gov.uk.

Passengers who have not been vaccinated must perform a pre-departure test, PCR tests on days two and eight, and self-isolate for ten days.

PM Johnson stated that the latest COVID-19 variation Omicron was “so ubiquitous” that “measures have a minimal influence on the growth in cases while continuing to represent a considerable expense to our travel business,” as the travel industry had long argued.

The pre-departure test, according to Johnson, “discourages many from flying for fear of being trapped overseas and incurring significant additional money.”

Leaders in the travel industry greeted the news of loosened travel restrictions with open arms.

“This is a tremendously welcome gesture at a vital moment in the booking season for travellers, and will provide a significant boost to anyone planning to go overseas or come to the UK this year,” said Airlines UK CEO Tim Alderslade.

“People will now be able to book knowing that – for the fully vaccinated – all emergency testing restrictions have been removed. Today marks an important step towards learning to live alongside the virus, helping passengers and the travel sector look ahead to what will be an all-important spring and summer season.”

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) also reacted positively to the announcement. “The removal of these temporary measures is an important recognition that travel restrictions should not remain in place if they no longer help prevent the spread of the virus,” MAG CEO Charlie Cornish said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Government on a roadmap for the removal of all remaining restrictions, in order to help our prized aviation sector enjoy a full recovery.”

easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren, added: “We welcome the government’s decision to remove the unnecessary and costly pre-departure testing for travelers and revert to a single lateral flow test on arrival.

“This will make travel much simpler and easier and means our customers can book and travel with confidence. However, the government must now urgently take the final step towards restriction-free travel and remove the last remaining unnecessary test for vaccinated travelers so flying does not become the preserve of the rich. Despite the short-term impact of Omicron, we remain excited about our plans for next summer which should see us return to 2019 levels of capacity and beyond.”


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