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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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  • ANDREW Taylor says:

    Scottish government announcement says:
    Changes on PDTs and isolation will come into force at 0400 on Friday 7 January 2022.

    LFDs with photo confirmation will be accepted as post-arrival tests from 0400 Sunday 9 January, people will be able to buy an eligible test from the list on gov.uk from Friday 7 January. Anyone who tests positive will need to isolate and take a free follow-up PCR test for genomic sequencing.

    Is photo confirmation required in rest of UK?

    • Rob says:

      Yes – it means you upload a smartphone picture of your negative result to the website of your test provider.

  • KW says:

    Has anyone used Simplytestme to travel to the States (New York)? It says on there they do not do supervised tests for USA however I am not 100% sure they need to be supervised?
    Does anyone have any recommendations for cheap pre departure lateral flow tests?

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

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