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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)

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  • Ian says:

    Does anyone know if Amex Platinum insurance would cover you for having to isolate abroad and booking new flights on BA the same as we had originally booked? The flights were paid for on our BAPP.

    I am assuming that if we test positive before flying back that BA would not rearrange flights and the return would be lost?

    Or am I going to need to buy specialist insurance?

  • Dominic says:

    Harry – But, hypothetically, if Omicron is in Bolton (random location), you are correct; it is here, it will now spread. But if you keep flying in new imports and planting seeds in new locations, say Bristol and Kent, the pace at which it will take hold nationally will be faster.

    It’s not about stopping it, it is about slowing it.

    • His Holyness says:

      Keeping saving up those points, if it continues like this, Laithwaites will have a run on

    • Roberto says:

      Be a good boy and go and get your booster!
      That’s what gives us all our freedom back again right?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      You’re forgetting people are allowed to travel all over the U.K.

      It’ll make its way from Bolton to Kent and Bristol faster than it will from abroad.

    • Dr C says:

      Their measures now and previously will only have been to slow it down regardless of what they wanted.

      There is no magic booster or vaccine Covid the same as the flu and the vax efficacy is certainly questionable.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      “Planting seeds” isn’t your surname Raab …

  • Andy says:

    Oh heck, don’t know what we are going to do. Will be on a cruise ship without internet connection package (cruising last 2 days so can’t use data) and travel back to the UK straight after disembarking

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      Cruise ship should have some Covid tests aboard, and a doctor – try there?

      Or ask a fellow passenger if they have an internet package you can use for a few minutes?

      Or, since you have internet now to be able post here, start searching now for lateral flow tests in the city/airport of departure?

      Or get an online supervised lateral flow ordered now and posted to a posh hotel in the port of arrival? If company only sends to the UK, then get sent to a fmaily member and get them to forward.

      See if you can delay return flight by a day?

      Lots of options – only you know the ones that will work.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Surely they have a few lateral flow and a doctor on board to write out a note.

    • Jody says:

      Most of the cruise lines have been allowing free access for things like completing PLF forms etc. I’d go and speak to guest services and see what they suggest.

  • JandeW says:

    No idea where best to post this…am travelling back to UK now from Amsterdam. BA lounge at Schiphol still closed (will it ever open again?) – use Aspire Lounge at Gate 41

  • TheSheeple says:

    All that YouTube and Wikipedia research paying dividends Roberto …you have our collective admiration! Sincerely, all the ‘sheeple’

  • Titus Adduxas says:

    Having recently recovered from Covid we can get into the USA with a ‘proof of recovery’ certificate and a letter from our GP. Returning however seems to require a PCR or LFT pre boarding and a PCR within 2 days of arrival. However, as those of you who’ve had Covid will testify, you are told by the NHS NOT to have a PCR test within 90 days. I believe it’s because you’d likely fail it despite not being a danger. Catch 22?

    • Scott says:

      The latest advice regarding coming back from the US, is to take a LFT as these are less sensitive.

      I tested positive for Covid on the 31st Oct.
      Took a rapid allergen test to go to the US just over a week ago, so about 2 weeks after my 10 days quarantine period. That came back negative.
      Took a Day 2 PCR test this week and luckily that came back negative too (usual Government advice of don’t take a test, but take a test).

      At the end of the day, it might depend on what sort of dose you had, severity, physical wellbeing etc. Someone else might test positive.
      Maybe I got lucky. I don’t know, but it’s a risk if you do test positive and then 10 days isolation / quarantine.

    • Paul says:

      Is the recommendation not to save resources testing someone who is unlikely to have Covid again so soon? Perhaps I’m missing it, or perhaps (more likely) it’s never actually explained why governmental bodies make these declarations, and people make their own assumptions as to the reasons for them. Either way, perhaps take a stash of LFT’s with you to assist in your assessment of likelihood of test results…

      • Scott says:

        There are bits floating around that the omnicron variant can be caught by people who have recently recovered from Covid, so there’s no guarantee you couldn’t have it again a week or two after recovery.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Exactly that. They just don’t want you taking an NHS PCR within 90 days as it’s unlikely you’ll catch it again.

        The Zoe C19 study suggests 1 in 5 people don’t seem to produce a good immune response after catching covid so yes some people do catch it again within 90 days.

  • Matt says:

    I’m currently in NYC, due to fly back 6th December before 4am U.K. time, but land after 4am on Tuesday 7th. Does anyone know if I’m required to take a pre departure test?

    • Paul says:

      I imagine, as has been the case so far, that the airline will be primarily responsible for checking these things. Regardless of what the ‘guidelines’ say, or meant, or implied, if your interpretation differs from your airline’s, it’s going to be their view which prevails, so perhaps contact them (I know, I know, easier said….).

    • Polly says:

      Matt, no test needed..

  • Mycity says:

    If you are abroad and test positive for Covid I get you can’t fly home, however how do you know when your fit to fly home do you have to take daily tests till a negative result and the book flights home?

    • Blenz101 says:

      Depends where you are. Some countries will confine you in institutional quarantine for 10 days+ before retesting you.

      • Ian says:

        You love to post negative stuff @benz101 !

        • Ls says:

          It is very true, and a big risk for those who are averse to enforced quarantine. Barbados, Spain amongst others will all lock you up if a returning traveller and test positive. Be careful.

          • Ian says:

            Rubbish. So you are saying that if you catch Covid in Spain they lock you up? LOL

          • Rui N. says:

            How exactly will Spain know that you’ve tested positive on a LFT you took on your hotel room?!

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Exactly why i take a book of nhs LFT with me …

        • Blenz101 says:

          Not negative. I just said it depends where you are, just posted an extreme example. Check with Polly if you think it can’t happen!

          I’m completely against the OTT reactions of governments worldwide.

        • Polly says:

          Believe me, it can and does happen… happened to me last month in Singapore…false positive, but still they take you away….

        • Track says:

          What do you mean negative stuff. If you test positive and authorities know, they will hunt you down like a sick animal, no expenses spared (look up recent cases in press), particularly if you came from travel but not only.

          It is completely disproportional on 30,000 daily infections/similar number in other countries but here we are.

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