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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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  • Dave says:

    So when I try to order a click and collect test for tomorrow it doesn’t show Waterloo as an option even though it says it is eligible for click and collect.
    Anyone else had this problem?

  • Spurs drive me mad says:

    So if I or one of family test positive for pre departure in Dubai what happens do they cart you off like poor Polly, what’s the procedure? Trying to get everything straight in my thoughts so I can decide to take risk or not.

    • Ian says:

      How would they know? – do you really think Qured or whoever will phone up the Dubai or Singapore or any other local police force and say ‘ arrest this person, as they have tested positive!’

      • Rob says:

        Qured is the best way if you are worried about carted off. If you are positive, you just lay low for a week.

      • Spurs drive me mad says:

        Why be flippant I just want to know if I test positive in Dubai can I get home or do I have to stay there. I didn’t think it was that difficult a question Ian but obviously you do.

        • BlueHorizonUK says:

          If you take a test locally somewhere that is linked to Dubai Health (do any of the clinics or hospitals) and you come back positive then they will inform the authorities.

          If you take a test that is video (like Qured) then they wont tell the authorities as they are based in the UK.

          If you take Randox where you only upload the result and they issue a certificate then again they probably wouldn’t either.

          • BlueHorizonUK says:

            However you will need a negative result (wherever and however you take it) to actually board a flight back to the UK so if you test positive then you will need to stay in Dubai until you get a negative result

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Well obviously you can’t get home for a number of days because you need to isolate after a positive test.

          You can isolate in your own home/hotel/airbnb etc

          If you can’t find somewhere / afford it the authorities will find you somewhere I believe (I recall heavily discounted hotel rates with meals for those isolating late being mentioned last year)

          • Blenz101 says:

            This is correct. No carting off in Dubai. Any test that is taken locally (PCR) will be reported to the local health authority though.

        • Polly says:

          Gosh, Spurs, that’s a worry. But at least you can stay in a cheap hotel, maybe with a sneaky balcony?? Sadly, need negative test to board. Hope you all test negative….

  • Nick says:

    So I’ve just learnt that pilots and cabin crew are exempt from all of these rules (including D2 test and isolation), even if travelling for holidays not work and even if they’re coming from the riskiest areas.

    I tend to support measures like these, but it makes a mockery of the whole system if there are too many loopholes, e.g. if some people can just flash an ID at the immigration desk and not have to take any tests at all.

    • Matthew says:

      There will be plenty of internal protocols with individual companies re testing for aircrew. How can aircrew keep doing pre departure and arrival tests of doing 4 sectors a day or more for example? The travel industry would be game over otherwise. You don’t flash ID at immigration, you go through separate crew lanes or areas which are only permitted when on duty. Otherwise you have to do the same as the public.

      • Nick says:

        No, I know the rules for travelling on duty, and am totally fine with those. I wouldn’t expect the same testing requirement for operating flights. This is different, when travelling for leisure/holidays, when they have been told to select ‘exempt due to job’ on the PLF, which will trigger rejection at the e-gate, and have been told to show ID at the desk to be waved through. I repeat, for holidays, not work. And that’s what makes a mockery of the whole thing.

        • Tim says:

          Wonder why you mention only pilots and crew? There is a huge long list of people who are exempt, including CEOs who simply have meetings…

          Crew need to produce proof they were abroad or are coming in because of their airline, which is normally a ‘general declaration’ form which lists their operating flight details. It’s up to border force to check.

  • roro says:

    Advice please
    My daughter – who we have not seen for 2.5 years – arrives from Australia on 16th for a Christmas visit. She is flying in to Heathrow on Qatar from Sysdney – BUT – it’s two flights as she transits Doha and changes planes. I cannot find any definitive advice on what she puts on her PLF – she is double jabbed with AZ – but has anyone any experience of what flight details she submits. Is it both flights or the one from Doha to LHR – which presumably makes it look like she’s returning from the Middle East. We are desperate not to make any mistakes on this form so she is not denied boarding but it’s a bureacratic nightmare as far as I can tell. Any advice would be very much appreciated.

    • Speedbird676 says:

      On the PLF she would put:

      What country are you travelling from? Australia

      What is the flight number that you will arrive on? The flight number for the DOH-LHR leg

      Which countries have you been in, or will you be in, for the 10 days before coming to the UK? Qatar

      Did you transit through this country via plane or train without passing Border Control? Yes (assuming she transits airside without entering Qatar)

    • Nick says:

      Have you actually looked at the form? It’s easy. You put the ‘vessel/flight number’ as the one that lands in the UK. Separately it asks you which countries you’ve been in and for how long. There’s an option to tick if you’re in transit. So in this case, you’d put BOTH Qatar and Australia, with dates that reflect how long your stay was.

      • roro says:

        I can’t find an example of the form anywhere – it seems to me that you have to actually complete it to see it

    • TGLoyalty says:

      FYI they don’t read the PLF to check all the details are right. they just check you have one no risk of being denied boarding

  • Joe says:

    I would think it’s the Doha flight but she can always submit a new plf anytime before she lands if the check in agent at SYD has different ideas. I hope she makes it back and you have a nice Christmas, we are hoping to see family we haven’t seen for 2 years too..

  • Andy says:

    I leave the US on Monday evening arriving back to the UK AT 8am, the BA tool has been updated and seems to imply I don’t need a departure test.. and the guidance says the following, as we depart before this do we escape this?

    “ Changes to pre-departure testing from 4am, Tuesday 7 December 2021 : From 4am, Tuesday 7 December all people aged 12 years and over must take a PCR or LFD COVID-19 test before they travel to England from abroad.

    You must take the test within the 2 days before you travel to England.”

    • Andy says:

      I should have clarified that we land back Tuesday morning at 8am, and the wording implies the change is for departures occurring to the uk after 4am GMT Tuesday

    • Polly says:

      Yes, you definitely do… no test! Spent a lot of time onto BA F today. Happy to let us board anytime up to 4am Tuesday U.K. time tho. We also arrive after the deadline, so good luck.
      They told us to photo the relevant page for check in staff.
      Have a great flight, and don’t worry.
      It’s why we changed our flight from Wednesday to Monday….

  • ianM says:

    Need to get one of these damned LFTs before leaving Atlanta on Tuesday night at 10pm.
    Any advice on best option, CVS seem to mainly do testing for US citizens, you need to show various local IDs??

    Brought some NHS tests over and just used one – negative. What a pain to have to source something else.

  • Terwri says:

    Really stressing now as its proving difficult to find a lateral flow test provider with certificate and appointments in the area. And without US id I cant fill the booking form. Aaargh

    • Will in SFO says:

      1. Try a walk in and explain the situation- if no luck try the next pharmacy

      2. Look up to see if the local county health authority have a free testing site- most do.

      3. Check out the testing options at your departure airport- some offer testing like at LHR

      4. Check local hospital groups- most on the West Coast offer testing.

      • Terwri says:

        1 Ive booked a drive through at Walgreens tomorrow but had to use the MIL zip code. Will see if that works.
        2 Collier county doesnt seem to have
        3 RSW has no preflight tests
        4 back up plan

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