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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)

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  • Ian M says:

    Does this apply to everyone or only the double/triple jabbed?

    • Rob says:

      Presumably only vaccinated, as the old rules only applied to them too.

      • Ian M says:

        Yeah, double checked. This only applies to those fully vaccinated. Which at the moment is 2 shots but will very soon be 3 shots. You should probably amend the article

        • Rob says:

          I assumed it would be self explanatory as the old rules only applied to the vaccinated too.

        • Muzer says:

          When is “very soon”? Has this been announced or is this just your speculation? Just curious as I was due to receive my booster the day I got COVID so now I can’t for another couple of weeks…

  • Martin Clarke says:

    That just cost me £138. Oh well!

  • pigeon says:

    Already bought a day 2 Randox PCR – can this be used for a ‘fit to fly’ PCR at a later date?

  • jp says:

    Excellent…as a 30 something, I’m glad the virus will ultimately kill all the 40+ people who think their freedom and rights to not wear a mask is more important than the chance that my grandma might not get a bed in a hospital.
    Let it rip I say!

    • His Holyness says:

      Are you new to the U.K? Grandmas have been perishing in NHS hospitals long before Covid. Beds are blocked by chronic issues discharging to the care sector.

    • Luke says:

      Presumably you read the comment above about (lack of) intensive care bed use in Scotland? Somebody needs to put this farce to sleep.

    • JerrySignfield says:


  • Tom Carr says:

    The great thing about this is…when all other countries ban you from entering them in the first place. You won’t need to test either way anyway

    • JerrySignfield says:

      With all the vaccines waning after a few months and the 1st and 2nd shot being 90% less effective after 10 weeks, its either jabs for life or they will end ….

    • NorthernLass says:

      But that hasn’t actually happened …

    • TGLoyalty says:

      There’s always Mexico.

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    In Mexico and due to fly back from LAX later this month. Travel companions all went down with Covid at Xmas (tested with NHS lateral flow we brought with us and later for the US-based contingent, PCRs), but I haven’t!

    Now concerned that if I get this later this month, we might be stuck until February! So looking at coming home earlier but some people still testing positive on lateral flow 10 days after first postive test.

    Any idea when they might be clear?

    Or should they have gone to a doc and got a PCR and then they would have been OK after 10 days with a “recovery certificate”?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Can’t you get a flight from within Mexico therefore skipping any USA testing requirements? Or not double jab so need a test for U.K. anyway?

      Really you should test negative on LFT at around day 5-7.

      • Colin MacKinnon says:

        Thinking of changing flight, but not sure where a list of BA zones is – LAX and San Diego are in Zone 6 for my 241 return. But which zone is Mexico City in, which would be the alternative.

        Original plan, of course, was to spend more time with family in the States, but that’s gone out the window now!

        • Colin MacKinnon says:

          And, of course, could enter the USA on the land bridge at Tijuana – it only by air, not by land or ship, that the Covid test rules apply!

    • Patrycja says:

      I don’t have much to add on top of what you’ve already thought about but wanted to wish you good luck. Alternatively, register the test now, start the 5 days isolation and use recovery certificate to enter US.

      We are in Hawaii at the moment (came through LA) and there are a lot of symptomatic people around so easy to pick up COVID.

  • LM says:

    Going Turkey this weekend, not fully vaccinated yet. I planned on using the Klarity 9.95 “test certification” combined with the NHS LFTs for entry to Turkey and again back to the UK (plus the mandatory PCRs on landing back in the UK) – are there any issues with this method? I saw someone above mentioned they used this from the US to the UK so I presume all is working okay?

    • Ryan says:

      Should work in practice, but obviously bending the rules on how the NHS ones should be used

      I’m guessing 99% of their verifications are the NHS ones anyway…

  • NorthernLass says:

    Can we start the “What’s the cheapest day 2 test” chat again? I’m a bit out of the loop having not been abroad since August.

    • Ladyshopper says:

      Anna, we used Testing For All back in November when we got back from our med cruise. Not the cheapest, but not bad at £17, and our results were back very quickly.

      Simply test me has been mentioned on here before, no idea how good/reliable they are, but they are £12.

      • meta says:

        They are all the same tests, same as the ones NHS uses. No need for reliability given that there is no self-isolation requirement. Just do the test when it arrives. You’ll have the result in 15 minutes and can act accordingly.

    • PIL says:

      PCR test: Expert Medicals
      LFT: Anything above £15 is way too much in my opinion. Nationwide pathology is my benchmark at £14.99 without any affiliation to them. Since there is no urgency, who cares about how soon results will be back?

      • letsfly says: is £12 – has been used by Rob twice (see page 1 of this thread)

      • TGLoyalty says:

        The “result” is right in front of you anyway with an LFT C = -ve C&T= +ve

    • Gavin454 says:

      I’ve used simplytestme twice for £12 each time. They were fine, no problems at all.

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