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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)

  • Andy says:

    So I’m off on holiday Tuesday, what sort of test to do I need if I do a click and collect from Randox?

    • Sandgrounder says:

      Fit to fly lateral flow 18.95 and day 2 PCR 34.99

      • Andy says:

        Is that definitely the case? Randox don’t seem to have updated their website if so. Only selling day two tests for people arriving back to the Uk

  • Bearing up says:

    Friends left last week for holiday in Antigua. Booked return tests as required, £50pp. They’ve now received the ‘news’ about pre departure test requirement and enquired in their hotel- cost £250pp!! Rather takes the edge of the break a bit.

    • GeorgeJ says:

      They will certainly get them cheaper than that, no doubt this is some flash hotel with a private service. Anyway if you can afford to go to Antigua the test shouldn’t break you (even if it is totally unnecessary).

  • Dave says:

    How I miss the way things were.
    Now to go on planned trip to Bermuda I need:

    Pre-departure test
    Day 0 test
    Day 4 test
    Day 10 test
    Pre-departure test
    Day 2 arrival test.

    6 tests! No thanks, time to cancel.

    • Dominic says:

      So you were happy with doing the tests that Bermuda require, but no the ones the UK Govt wants? Or are they all new?

      • Char Char says:

        Clearly each test is a risk of quarantine so less the better

      • BuildBackBetter says:

        That seems to be the theme here.
        People like Harry and Roberto blindly accept restrictions by foreign govt, but any steps by uk govt is bordering on lunacy.

        • David B says:

          Yeah, it’s true that when I booked I knew I would have to take 4 tests.
          I’m not necessarily disagreeing with the principle of the subsequent introduction of UK pre-departure and arrival tests , I’m merely commenting that it changes how I feel about going on holiday. Moving from 4 to 6 tests for a 3 week holiday just seems next-level faff.
          Incidentally, the 3x PCR tests required in Bermuda (arrival, day 4 and day 10) are a relative bargain compared to the UK – cost $75 in total.

  • SSR BAQ says:

    Okay sorry if this has been answered 1,00000 times but…

    I’m heading to Paris soon, on Eurostar. The French requirements changed today, to a supervised Lateral Flow (antigen) which I assume means I’ll need to do something *in a clinic* (randox in my hometown, or Collinson at St. Pancras).

    Plus I’ll need to purchase a Lateral Flow test (probs not mandatory to be done in a clinic, but could be) to do in Paris before I return to satisfy the UK Govt (but I could buy a Randox Click & Collect certified one for this??)

    Plus I’ll need to organise some kind of Day 2 PCR, which will require me to isolate until a result so I should go for the quickest not cheapest and probably do Collinson at St Pancras as soon as may train ‘lands’ in the UK?

    • Chas says:

      I’m in a similar situation to you, departing 28 Dec. I think we will either have to go to St P on 27th if we’ll get the results in time, or go to the place at one of the Heathrow hotels which has quicker turn around and has been mentioned in comments a few times this week (can’t remember name off-hand), if not. Coming back – a test in a chemist in Paris on either NYE or NYD (come back 2nd Jan) should work, followed by a day 2 test (on day 0) at St P before heading home. It’s going to be a hassle logistically (especially in Paris), but I’m really keen to make the trip work if at all possible.

      Would be really interested if anyone has any specific thoughts on my plans…

      • Lady London says:

        Haloverify LHR T5 5 hours Day 2 PCR reported £59. Practically any French pharmacy LFT/antigen fixed regulated price 22 Euros (about £19) and that’s your return done.

        Collinson at St Pancras turnaround on ardivsl testing reports look like you might have 1 day isolation as provided by following evening. Occasionally turns out to be same evening as day of test if earlyish in day.

        That’s a summary of extremely recent feedback on here for those who are not loyal readers that pay attention or too tired to search 🙂

        • Chas says:

          Thanks LL – yes it was Halo whose name escaped me. At the Sofitel…

  • Peter says:

    Can you fly into Dublin and either drive or take a train to Belfast and fly or sail back to the mainland? Possibly only worth the faff if travelling in a family of four or more.
    I understand the land border is still open without restrictions. Does anyone know?

    • John says:

      You now need tests to fly into Dublin.

      Also, there is information sharing between Garda National Immigration Bureau and UK Border Force, which you consent to when completing your passenger form. No idea whether Border Force would pursue matters but the potential is there.

    • Simon says:

      Ireland is part of the CTA so no need to go to Belfast, just get a flight from Dublin.

  • Aston100 says:

    What a load of rubbish this is.

    • HH says:

      Honestly, as annoying as this is personally, at least it’s a measure that makes a real public health difference.

      • Pablo says:

        PMSL Funniest comment of the day

      • Char Char says:

        This will measure zero difference in reality especially when the virus can lay dormant in people, so 10 days quarantine doesn’t guarantee anything.

  • Dev K says:

    Can an Indian citizen fly to USA via UK (LHR) transit on British Airways

  • ianM says:

    I am feeling stupid

    Fill in your passenger locator form up to 48 hours before arrival

    Does this mean I need to fill it in more than 2 days before, or within 2 days? Seems it must be the former.

    • HH says:

      Within T-48 hours of arrival. Clunky wording as ever.

      • ianM says:

        So I can’t do it 4 days in advance? Probably encourage me to forget to do it!

        • John says:

          You can only enter an arrival time less than 48 hours away.

          You can put a false arrival time to fill out the rest then edit it later

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