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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)

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  • Ansiella Grima says:

    I will arrive in UK on the 30th December for a short break we will do the PCR test on the same time arrival at the Heathrow Airport and then we have to isolate ourselves in the hotel until we receive the results can someone please answer my questions

    • Rob says:


      Note you can pay for a 3-hour PCR test at Heathrow which realistically means no isolation.

      • Frankie says:

        Hi Rob. But can you pre book the 3 hour test and get a code for the PLF before flying? I’ve been on Express Test website today as friends need one asap when arriving from Seattle in two weeks. I can’t see that it can work as a day 2 arrival giving a PLF code unless I’m mistaken.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          It’s too early to say what the testing providers will offer. Rapid facilities exist for Fit to fly and they may extend for arrivals needing a “day 2”

          However, take a Randox mail order day 2 asap after landing and stick it in the Dropbox before it collects for the day and you’ll have the result by lunchtime the next day.

    • GeorgeJ says:

      Personally I wouldn’t worry about what happens in over a months time since the rules will have changed by then anyway! It will be either nothing to worry about or total disaster.

  • John T says:

    It’s a shame this is all happening now and not in January given last Christmas was cancelled. I think if we’d all had a normal Christmas we wouldn’t be bothered with new restrictions in January when lots of people stay home anyway.

  • Steve says:

    Am I right to think that in the past the wording on day 2 tests allowed them to be taken prior to day zero, so that eg for a weekend break you could take the test before leaving the country? That might help reduce the isolation period to a minimum…

    • John says:

      No, they must be taken after arriving in the UK.

      When there were pre-flight tests you could take them before leaving the UK as they just had to be 3 days before your arrival.

  • Aaron C says:

    If I booked a rapid 3hr “pre-departure” PCR with Collinson and simply used the PLF from my already-booked LFT would I be breaking any rules? Surely as long as I have a negative PCR I can crack on? Take the PCR on landing and the results will be with me by the time I’m home. If anyone says anything I can simply show my emailed negative results, no?

    • John says:

      Without reading the as yet unpublished law, nobody can say.

      But when you enter the UK you would have evidence that you’ve booked a PCR test even if it didn’t come with a PLF code, which might satisfy the conditions.

      Only hitch may be if they change the PLF code format.

  • Pat says:

    I’m glad I booked an arrival test last night. I’m coming in from NYC on Friday and slots were filling up.

    I’m also hoping Qured will refund me for the day 2 rapid test I had originally ordered.

  • Peter Taysum says:

    Dear all,

    I’m flying to Turkey for Christmas, return 26th December; I’m due to fly NCL to LHR on 29th December at 07:05 then on to SEA.

    I THINK I need PCR ASAP on return, isolate and NEGATIVE PCR result BEFORE I can fly NCL to SEA.

    Not sure when I can get PCR on return, so will need PCR sent out in advance before Christmas.

    Sorry to be dense, but my head is exploding!


    • John says:

      As day 2 is 28 Dec, you can’t escape from having to do it.

      US can be LFT but must be supervised. But you might as well try to use your day 2 test for the US, so it would be a PCR anyway.

      Day -3 for the US is 26 Dec, which suits you doing it ASAP on return from Turkey too.

  • Angela says:

    Leaving the US December 1st to the UK. What do I need to do. Booked my day 2 test for when I get home. Could you tell me if this have changed now thanks.

    • Rob says:

      You need a Day 2 PCR test. If you booked a Day 2 lateral flow, chuck it away or keep it to use next year. You cannot leave your home until you get a negative result to the PCR.

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