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UK introduces pre-departure Covid tests from Tuesday 7th

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The Government has announced this evening that pre-departure tests will be required for anyone landing in the UK after 4am on Tuesday for anyone travelling to the UK.

This is despite Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, telling The Daily Telegraph on Thursday that it wouldn’t happen, and that it would be ‘killing off the travel sector’.

A family of four will now be looking at £500 of testing purely to return to the UK – a lateral flow or PCR test before the flight and a PCR test after the flight – on top of any testing required by the country you are visiting. The cost could easily top £750 for a family.

The official wording is here.

Testing applies to arrivals aged 12 and over, with limited exceptions.

The test must be taken in the two days before departure. If you fly to the UK on a Wednesday, the test must be taken on Monday or Tuesday.

A lateral flow or PCR test is acceptable, as long as an acceptable certificate can be produced.

We reviewed the Qured video testing system here and I used it myself when returning from Spain in the Summer. It was an efficient system but clearly needs a degree of forward planning – anyone abroad now and returning to the UK on Tuesday will need to source a test locally.

The British Airways CEO Sean Doyle said in a statement:

“The blanket re-introduction of testing to enter the UK, on top of the current regime of isolation and PCR testing on arrival is completely out of step with the rest of the world, with every other country taking a measured approach based on the science. Our customers will now be faced with uncertainty and chaos and yet again this a devasting blow for everyone who works in the travel industry.”

In a separate move, Nigeria will be added to the 10 Southern African countries on the ‘Red List’ from 4am on Monday. This will be a blow to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, for whom Lagos is one of their most profitable routes.

Comments (375)

  • Freddy says:

    Got 2 241 vouchers expiring next summer. Think I’m just going to cash out my avios to nectar and be done with it

    • Andrew says:

      Yeah makes sense. That’s what I’ve been doing all year. Funny how BA have shut down the conversion route “temporarily”.

  • Tom says:

    I never really understood the logic behind the pre-departure tests for those who travel abroad for 2-3, even 4 nights.

    Even if you manage to get infected during such a short trip, the pre-departure test (whether it’s antigen or PCR) is not going to pick it up.

    • Rob says:

      Especially, as I did for 3 nights in Paris, you do the pre departure test to come home in the UK before you leave ……

    • John says:

      If you test positive by antigen, you’re very likely to be infectious on the plane/train/ferry.

      But if you test negative by antigen you are unlikely to infect others on your transport even if you’ve recently been infected (in which case, the day 2 PCR is likely to pick it up).

      • john says:

        Except people are trying to do the day2 test immediately on arrival and escape quarantine early. Understandable why, but it defeats the point somewhat. At least if you are paying for a test you might as well aim for it to pick up all chances that you may have caught it before you go and infect your friends and family. Not sure why the govt made it “up-to” 2day test.

        • Mr(s) Entitled says:

          Because they are inept. Smart people do, dumb ones become politicians.

  • Harry T says:

    The silly folk in the cabinet are adding a lot of costs to my holiday – not only have I had to pay an extra £40 or so per person for a day 2 PCR vs LFT, I now need predeparture tests and risk a big bill if I test positive and have to stay abroad. Can’t help but feel a lot of families etc won’t be able to afford to travel now. Surely this is the a death blow to the travel industry too and will potentially lead to more job losses and bankruptcies.

    • Geoff 1977 says:

      Pretty much every other industry is booming at the moment (including domestic travel) but yes international travel is screwed.

      New normal

      • Lady London says:

        Did Grant Schapps deliberately wait till markets to close before announcing this?

        Anyone shorted FTSE?

    • Richie says:

      Can you insure for “…a big bill if I test positive and have to stay abroad…”?

    • Spurs drive me mad says:

      Due to go to a Dubai in January myself, daughter in law and grandson. We are going to have a chat about it tomorrow wether to cancel or wait. None of us can afford to get caught abroad for days if test positive. It’s ok staying indoors at home but my house/pet sitter can’t stay another 2 weeks at my house if I’m stuck abroad. It’s so annoying paid for trip 2 weeks ago paid for travel insurance and Drs letter to import my medicines the costs are mounting up and not even packed suitcase yet!

  • Andy says:

    Hmm so I’m off to Thailand on Monday. No chance to get a test sent to me before I fly. I guess I’ll have to try and find somewhere in Bangkok to do it but I’m a bit concerned about getting one done in time

    • chris1922 says:

      Can you not pick up a test from somewhere tomorrow ? A Randox click and collect ?

      • Andy says:

        Hmm I could try, although I’m still really confused what I need and whether they would still be accepted if rules changed again.

        A fit to fly antigen or does it need to be PCR?

  • Lady London says:

    Why come back?
    If you leave the UK, why would anyone want to come back to this disorganized farce?

    Day 2 is fine.
    Or pre-entering test is fine.

    Current data does not justify this

    • John says:

      It’s not like the rest of the world is much better

      They’re just doing it to spite Colin. He has a good chance of getting infected in Mexico and having to extend his stay

    • Geoff 1977 says:

      “ Why come back?”

      To go back to work so you can pay for goods and services

  • Dan says:

    How easy is it to get an LFT whilst on holiday in NYC to meet the new requirements pre-departure requirements coming home?

    • Scott says:

      Earlier posts mentioned places such as CVS; Walgreens; Dwayne Reade?; RiteAid? etc.

      I’m going to wait and see what’s what. Have tests at home I could bring with me, and no idea if they want supervised or unsupervised tests, and who wants to see them etc.

      • Dan says:

        I think most of the aforementioned pharmacies sell LFT’s over the counter. But I’m wondering how to get one with a certificate which will almost certainly be required at check-in on the way home (presuming the rules are similar to those we had earlier this year).

  • Mattb says:

    Doubtful, previous rules were based on landing time not departure.

  • T says:

    Ordered Randox Antigen Day 2 for my return from the US. They changed it to a PCR, so I ordered the Randox PCR Day 2 ready to use after arrival. Tried to initially get a refund for the Antigen but no response. The government now require a pre departure Antigen too (shock). Can I just use the original Antigen as a pre departure in New York with CertiFly? It’s purchased as a Day 2 Antigen but the box and unit are the same…

    • Simon says:

      I’m in exactly the same boat… was this answered?

      • T says:

        After 90 minutes waiting for Randox to answer, still no conclusion. I got told the tests were different (even though they’re not) and that they needed to escalate it to see if the order # can be changed from a day 2 lateral flow to a fit to fly lateral flow. Randox really don’t make this easy for anyone (their staff included)!

    • Sandgrounder says:

      The certificate I got back from my Randox day 2 lateral flow contains all the info you would need for a fit to fly cert.

      • T says:

        Randox just confirmed it’s fine to use a prior day 2 lateral flow as a pre departure fit to fly test to the UK with the same order number put into the CertiFly app

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