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4am Tuesday is the start time for PCR tests and compulsory isolation

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One fact missing from Boris Johnson’s announcement yesterday about the reintroduction of PCR tests and self-isolation for UK arrivals was the start date.

The requirement for the Government to publish a Statutory Instrument, and to give the testing companies some time to prepare, has caused a delay.

The following message has now appeared on the Passenger Locator Form website:

From 04:00 Tuesday 30 November 2021 testing and isolation requirements will change for all arrivals into the UK.

If you are arriving into the UK after 04:00 Tuesday 30 November 2021 then please return to complete your Passenger Locator Form after 04:00 Monday 29 November as the system is currently being updated.

If you are arriving into the UK before 04:00 Tuesday 30 November 2021 please continue to complete your Passenger Locator Form now.

After 04:00 Tuesday 30 November 2021 lateral flow tests will no longer be accepted and all travellers arriving into UK will be required to book and take COVID-19 PCR tests.”

The original text is here.

This will hopefully provide some leeway for anyone who needs to return to the UK.

Remember that you will need to self isolate from the time you arrive in the UK until you receive your test result. You may only leave home to take your test and to buy food if no-one else can buy it for you.

Comments (195)

  • Bill says:

    Breaking: Switzerland ban all British citizens/residents arriving from the UK, effective immediately

    Only Swiss nationals, permanent residents of Switzerland/schengen can enter, but with a pre-departure negative test & 10 day mandatory quarantine

    Update again tljust now and strengthens the statement yesterday

    • Bill says:

      To be clear: if you’re not a Swiss national, permanent resident of Switzerland/Schengen area, you are unable to fly to Switzerland from the UK ⛔️

      (Note: This strengthens the previous restriction, announced just yesterday, which was: quarantine for all flight passenger arrivals)

      • Roger W says:

        Whats not clear if you are transiting GVA enroute to France skiiing. I have a trip booked on Saturday. No doubt BA will cancel anyway and likely France will Red List us anyway as is their habit!

        • Rich says:

          I would love to know this too. Even more complex, I’m planning on getting the TGV Paris to Geneva, in order to meet friends arriving by plane, before departing for France.

          So UK > FR > CH > FR for me. Not till January, so I’m not paying too close attention yet.

          • Lady London says:

            TGV arrives at Geneva Chambertin which is firmly in Switzerland. So you need to get out an an earlier stop in France – or go direct to tge resort in France

        • Charlieface says:

          GVA has French and Swiss border control, so you can just go out the other side

        • Lady London says:

          If you take the exit to France rather than the exit to Switzerland landing then technically you will not have entered Swiss soil

    • HH says:

      I’m there now, returning tomorrow – guess I should count on this being my last trip for the foreseeable future 😕 at least until Omicron becomes prevalent in Switzerland.

      • Roger W says:

        It likely is as much as the UK but their scientists have not published any data yet or choose not to.

    • r* says:

      Does that also mean that you cant transit from the uk through swiss airports?

      • John says:

        That was the case when British citizens were banned due to alpha (Kent variant) in Dec 2020

  • YFP says:

    Perfect, thanks for providing more information than the government! Flying back tonight, so don’t need to quarantine, but have booked a Day 2 PCR test anyways in an abundance of caution!

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      Out of interest, where do you think HfP got this information from if not the government?

      • YFP says:

        By government, I mean specifically the Boris show and the press conference. It was already on here from yesterday that due to the Statutory instrument needing to be done on Monday, Tues 4am was the most likely.

    • Mike says:

      YFP – If you arrived in England from any of these countries (red list ) after 4am 28 November, you must follow standard red list rules. This means you must quarantine in a managed hotel, and take 2 COVID-19 tests

  • DanP says:

    Any news on whether we can get a PCR when you arrive at Heathrow as the “on or before” day 2 as per the previous advice?

    • BlueHorizonUK says:

      Would assume only tests booked in advance would work to get a reference number for the form.

  • Zoe says:

    Very well played YFP, it’s refreshing to see someone doing the right thing. Makes a pleasant change from people looking to bend rules to suit them.

    • Yorkieflyer says:

      Why, if it’s not necessary? We are returning today from a low risk destination and will legally use our LFT

      • YFP says:

        Abundance of caution. I suspect work colleagues might not be too keen to debate the legalities of when the announcement was made as I’m heading back to the office.

        • Babyg says:

          Yawn, you are either compliant or you are not… work colleagues shouldn’t care if you’re an over achiever… take the free tests and save your money.

    • QwertyKnowsBest says:


  • Andrew Bower says:

    Thank you. There is some ambiguity (at least from my perspective) on whether this on arrival PCR test can be completed straight upon arrival in the U.K (Day 0) e.g. @ LHR, or if you must wait till Day 2? My gut tells me the former, but would be helpful for some 100% confirmation! Anyone? Cheers

  • Rma says:

    Does the PCR test result tell you which variant of Covid you have? If it’s the Delta variant presumably the isolation rules don’t apply. Apologies if I have missed something obvious.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      If the PCR test is positive, irrespective of the variant, you have Covid and need to isolate. This has always been the case.

      If it is negative you have no need to isolate.

    • BlueHorizonUK says:

      Yes the point of the mandatory PCR is to track which variant you have but as the previous comment, if you have covid you need to isolate for 10 days anyway irrespective of the variant (and you won’t know the variant you have anyway)

      • ChrisC says:

        That only works if you sequence all positive tests which isn’t the case at the moment.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Supposedly it doesn’t need a full sequence

          There’s a change that means the pcr test can give a big clue – “ So a PCR test that comes back spike-negative but virus-positive is suggestive of the presence of Omicron, which can then be confirmed by genome sequencing.”

        • Rich says:

          You don’t need full genomic sequencing to detect Omicron.

          By a quirk of fate, it can be detected in a normal PCR test, by something called S-gene dropout. Which makes things quicker and easier.

    • Lady London says:

      If positive it’s then sequenced (theoretically) and there’s a theory this reveals the variety for govt stats

  • GaryC says:

    I have a trip to the US planned, returning the morning of Friday 10th December, followed by a weekend in Dublin, flying out the same evening. Wondering now if this itinerary is even possible, with the new day 2 PCR & quarantine until results requirement? I can stay airside at T5 so I guess not technically enter the UK, and then the return from Dublin will be domestic and from the CTA so potentially no need for the PCR at all? Any other options, e.g. rapid turnaround pre-departure test on arrival?

    • Rob says:

      ExpressTest does 3 hour tests at Heathrow.

      • Richard says:

        Do you have a link. I couldn’t find the 3h pcr test on their website anymore. The only one available is the pcr test with results next day by 10pm

    • Richard says:

      Same situation for me but I cannot stay at the airport overnight.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      You can leave the country you just need to isolate while you’re here.

      Would also depend on what rules Dublin put in place.

    • John says:

      First risk is that Ireland makes you quarantine rendering the trip pointless.

      As you’re going to Dublin you’ll have to enter the UK whether you stay airside or not (assuming LHR, it’s the weird situation where some people mingling in departures can be defined as being in the UK and others as outside the UK).

      Without knowing precisely what the law will say, I would guess that you can avoid taking a test on 10 Dec because you’ll be leaving the UK before day 2. But you’d have to “self-isolate” from your arrival to your departure, which in practice means staying at the airport.

      Though possibly you could argue that you are self-isolating at home if you travel directly from the airport, faff around for the day and then travel directly back to the airport.

      On return from Dublin, it is likely that the rules will say you need to do a PLF and day 2 test (including self-isolation) if you have been outside the CTA in the past 10 days, which you will have been.

      • John says:

        And if you’re back from Dublin on 12 Dec then that’s your original day 2 anyway, so you might as well take the test on the 12th.

  • HH says:

    Phew, flying back noon on Monday and was convinced I’d be caught under the new rules. Thanks Rob for the clarification.

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