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Government scraps pre-arrival covid testing and ‘Day 2’ PCR tests

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The Government has confirmed this afternoon that you will no longer be required to take a covid test before travelling to England.

You will also no longer need to take a ‘Day 2’ PCR test and self-isolate until you receive the result.

Government scraps pre-arrival covid testing

The system will return to how it was late last year for those who are fully vaccinated. At some point the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ is likely to be changed to include only those who have also received a booster shot, but this has not yet happened.

You will still be required to take a ‘Day 2’ (really a Day 0-2) lateral flow test when you return to the UK. However, there is no requirement to isolate until you receive the result and so you can immediately return to work or education after landing.

As before, you must purchase your lateral flow test before you return to England and enter the purchase reference number on your Passenger Locator Form.

The implementation period is confusing, unfortuately:

  • Anyone arriving after 4am on Friday will not need to have done a pre-arrival test
  • Anyone arriving after 4am on Friday will not need to self-isolate whilst they await their test result
  • Anyone arriving after 4am on Sunday will be able to take a ‘Day 0-2’ lateral flow test instead of a PCR test

This means that anyone arriving between 4am Friday and 4am Sunday will still need to do a PCR test on arrival, even though they will no longer need to isolate whilst awaiting the result.

Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic said:

“The removal of pre-departure testing before travel to the UK and costly PCR testing upon arrival is welcome progress and a necessary step towards frictionless air travel for our customers. Travellers can now book with confidence and look forward to reconnecting with loved ones and business colleagues. Meanwhile customer demand will be boosted in a critical booking window for the travel industry and vital testing capacity can be reallocated where it is needed the most – in hospitals, schools and crucial national infrastructure.

“Throughout the pandemic we have demonstrated that international travel can operate safely, taking full advantage of our world leading vaccine rollout. We want to thank the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Transport – and their teams – for working with us to lead the way in returning travel at scale, and in turn, boosting prospects for economic recovery. We look forward to working together towards the next review at the end of January, when the ultimate goal will be removal of all testing for travel and developing a playbook for how to deal with any new variants.”

Comments (120)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Patrycja says:

    We arrive from LA on Saturday afternoon flying BA to Edinburgh via Heathrow. I assume English rules will apply given our entry point. Am I correct?

    This is brilliant news for travellers!

  • AndyGWP says:

    Equally pleased and frustrated (having just returned)

  • Gareth says:

    We have Collinson Pre-Arrival tests already for a trip next week. Hopefully they might convert them to Day 2 tests? I presume we’ll need a reference number for the PLF though.

  • Joe says:

    Excellent news!

  • Alastair says:

    Currently getting over a spell of the Omicron and very relieved to hear this given that you can allegedly test positive on a PCR for up to 3 months after recovering – at this rate I wonder how useful PCR will actually be at all if that is the case.

    • Aso40 says:

      I did a day 2 PCR on Sunday, 3 weeks after having Omicron, and it was negative. I was not sure what I would have done if it was positive, given the rules say to isolate but the NHS app said I was immune as recently recovered…

      • Alastair says:

        Ah that is reassuring – yes it appears that this is a big and known hole that I know people have been caught out by.

  • BJ says:

    Finally, hope it lasts 🙂

  • PaulC says:

    Fantastic news!
    Just about to book our RT-PCR tests to travel to Dubai next Thursday. Any tips for the cheapest in the North West and am I correct they now have to be an onsite test rather than a home testing kits?

    • Mike says:

      I’ll be using again, happy with their service so far.

    • meta says:

      I am not sure where you’re getting that misinformation. Everything back to like it was in October.

      • PaulC says:

        Emirates Website.

        “Travel from the United Kingdom
        Effective 2 January 2022, all passengers travelling from the UK to Dubai must hold a negative COVID‑19 PCR test certificate for a test taken no more than 48 hours before departure and the certificate must be for a Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT‑PCR) test. The RT‑PCR test result certificate must state the location of where the sample was taken. Note that any other test certificates, including NHS COVID‑19 test certificates and home testing kits, are not accepted for travel from the United Kingdom”

        • meta says:

          Have you actually read what you just posted?

          • meta says:

            Sorry my bad for reading your post incorrectly under an article about pre-arrival tests…

    • NorthernLass says:

      Collinson or Randox at MAN are both very good. When we used Collinson we had them done at the airport the day before we flew and the results were back well within the 3 hour guaranteed time.

    • Sandgrounder says:

      Biograd in-clinic is 35 self administered, 55 nurse administered. Results in 24hrs. Locations in Warrington, Manchester Airport and Bootle.

  • meta says:

    And again the testing companies had advance notice as since this morning almost all of them have either re-introduced day 2 lateral flow or changed wording on their site…

    • Lady London says:

      Hmmm seems the airlines had earlier knowledge of some announcements previously too.

    • WaynedP says:

      The only three I’d currently consider (Boots, Randox & Collinson) are unchanged from what I saw yesterday, namely still showing only PCR for Day 2 return to UK.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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