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UK reintroduces compulsory PCR tests for arrivals – must isolate until results arrive

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Boris Johnson has announced new measures for anyone returning to the UK from a trip to any destination.

Everyone arriving in the UK will need to take a PCR test within two days of their return.

It is not clear when this will come into effect, as it presumably requires the publication of a Statutory Instrument which will appear here. Monday is probably the best bet. Whilst technically the announcement only applied to England, Scotland and Wales have already confirmed that they will follow suit.

EDIT: As this later article explains, it comes into effect at 4am on Tuesday.

UK reintroduces compulsory PCR tests for arrivals

In a major change from how the policy worked during the Summer, it will be compulsory to self-isolate until the result is known.

There will also be a return to mask wearing in shops and on public transport, although not in hospitality venues. This is effective from next week.

Anyone who has been in contact with anyone diagnosed with the new Omicron covid variant will have to self-isolate for 10 days irrespective of their vaccination status.

UK reintroduces compulsory PCR tests for arrivals

These rules will be introduced for a temporary period of three weeks and will be reviewed at that point.

In a separate announcement earlier on Saturday, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia were added to the ‘Red List’ of countries which will require hotel quarantine for anyone who has visited them within 10 days of returning to the UK. South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini were placed on the list on Friday.

We will update this article as more details emerge. The official Government press release is here.

Comments (433)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Will says:

    to be clear, I am self booker, BA flight, booking.com hotel. Crystal are just helpful

  • Tracey says:

    Collinson have just tweeted that their rapid PCR test doesn’t meet the standards for day2 testing!

    • Will says:

      Genius. Yet another thing to worry about. Now we have PCR versions to check.

      • Roy says:

        You’ve always had to buy a day 2 package, rather than just do any old test. Nothing has changed there.

  • Scott says:

    So what does meet the standards for Day 2 testing?

    • Polly says:

      Let’s hope express test at lhr 3 hr one meets the standards too. V useful if so, test on landing.

      • Roy says:

        Not yet offering it, unfortunately – was mentioned on page 5. In order to offer day 2 tests they need arrangements in place to perform sequencing on positive test results. The rules allow them to send the samples to a different lab for sequencing, so there’s no reason why they couldn’t offer rapid PCR day 2 tests, but it will presumably take a little time to put the necessary arrangements in place (if, indeed, they decide to offer such a service).

        • Polly says:

          Thanks for that…hope they manage it. The 3 hr test was quite innovative tho.

  • Will says:

    Hopefully collinson don’t use any more Of the tests that don’t work on omicron. Seems only reasonable that if it evades the PCR it might evade the vaccines, but I will leave that to the scientists (hope it is a bit more complicated than that)

  • SeeSharp says:

    Perhaps slightly offtopic, but I (non-UK citizen) traveled from DUB to LCY today and was surprised by the complete lack of border formalities (both at check-in and upon arrival). I had actually completed a PLF and booked a Day 2 LFT but this clearly would not have been necessary. I understand that this is due to the CTA but it seems like a pretty straightforward way to evade any travel restrictions imposed by the U.K.?

    • SeeSharp says:

      …especially because this was after a same-day connection in DUB that I completed without any document checks, without completing a PLF, and without any human interaction (used check-in kiosks and automated passport control lanes).

  • Livia says:

    I landed this evening (29.11) at 9pm at Heathrow, as a fully vaccinated traveller from Germany. I had booked a click&collect day 2 lateral flow test for pickup 🛻 tomorrow. Once I landed I learned that ExpressTest have cancelled my test collection and instead are advising me to book a PCR and self-isolate!! Does any of this make sense? Any idea what I need to do?

    • Roy says:

      Sounds to me like ExpressTest screwed up and shouldn’t have cancelled your lateral flow test (assuming they knew that 29th was your arrival date) as you came in ahead of the rule change.

      No need to self-isolate, since you came in under the old rules. Complain to ExpressTest and see if you can get them to re-instate your lateral flow test?

    • ChrisC says:

      This is probably why they cancelled – you booked to collect your test tomorrow (so 1st December) and that’s what they saw and you would have been out of compliance with the regulations.

      On the order what date did you put as your actual landing date?

      • Livia says:

        I put the 29th, as that was my actual flight date. Only reason I didn’t collect at Heathrow was that they close at 9pm, and my flight arrival time was 20:45. In the end I found another provider, Better2Know, who were still sending out the kits if the travel date was the 29th. I got it sent to the office and thankfully negative! No self-isolation although no one checked on me anyway.

  • Scott says:

    Are ExpressTest flexible on times?

    Booked a PCR test for tomorrow in T3, but due to delays, going to miss my intended flight, and now going to be arriving into T5.
    No idea how long immigration and getting to T3 will take. Possibly an hour later if things go well?

    • Keely says:

      Yes they were for me …booked for 6.30pm prior to flying but suited me to go earlier so 4 of us turned up at 8am instead on same day. No problems and were the only ones there . This was at t4 long stay but I think you’ll be ok …

    • ChrisC says:

      You could try asking very nicely and mention the fact your arrival terminal got changed at their T5 location and see if they could do it for you instead of having to make the trip to T3?

      This won’t be a novel issue for them and if there isn’t a queue they may be amenable As long as it’s not too busy.

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