England will scrap its pre-arrival testing requirement starting January 7. © Getty Images
England will scrap its pre-arrival testing requirement starting January 7. © Getty Images

England scraps COVID-19 testing requirements for arriving vaccinated travelers

TripFalcon January 06, 2022

Last Update: 2024-01-03 19:10:04

As part of an overall effort to streamline COVID-19 testing, vaccinated travelers wishing to visit England will no longer need a pre-arrival COVID-19 test as the UK government revises requirements in light of the rapid spread of the virus in the country.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement as he addressed the House of Commons on Wednesday saying the regulations were dissuading people from traveling due to fear of getting stranded abroad and incurring significant expense.  

The rollback of the testing requirement goes into effect at 4:00 GMT on Friday, January 7.

Fully vaccinated travelers also will not be required to self-isolate as they wait to take their day two COVID-19 and will now be allowed to do a lateral flow test instead of a PCR test. The change goes into effect at 4:00 GMT on Sunday, January 9. 

Pre-arrival testing for all passengers — even those who were fully vaccinated —was instated due to the arrival of the Omicron variant. 

Infections related to it have surged in the country. In an effort to take some pressure off the NHS, the government limited mixing over Christmas and asked people to cut their social contacts. Still, the BBC reported a "record 3.7 million people in the UK had Covid in the week to New Year's Eve - an extra million more than the week before."

The airline industry in the UK had called for the lifting of the testing requirement saying it was causing significant expense with no real impact on COVID-19 infection numbers due to the amount of communal spread of the Omicron variant. 

What are the UK's travel rules?
Travelers are still required to fill out a passenger locator form and to take a lateral flow test before day two of their arrival. This second test must be booked before passengers travel to the UK and they must include the test booking reference number in their passenger locator form.

The test can be taken anytime after arrival but before the end of day two. Day of arrival is noted as day zero. If the results of the lateral flow test are positive, the traveler must take a PCR test free of charge. If that is positive, they must continue to self isolate for a full 10 days. If the result of that test is negative, they can stop self-isolating.

Only tests booked through a government-approved provider will be accepted. Passengers must cover the cost of the lateral flow test themselves.

UK continues mask mandates, requires NHS COVID pass in some venues
After dropping all domestic COVID-19 restrictions in July, the UK brought back its mask mandate in December. Johnson said the country would continue those "Plan B" requirements and review them again on January 26.

As part of those requirements face coverings are compulsory in shops and on public transport; however hospitality venues like restaurants and bars are exempt. 

In addition, the NHS COVID pass is mandatory for entering the following places:

Indoor events without seating that host more than 500 people
Outdoor events without seating that host more than 4,000 people
Any venue hosting more than 10,000 people
If you have a trip to the UK booked, remember that you'll also need to prove that you’ve been fully vaccinated under a vaccination programme accepted by the UK. Visitors should continue to observe official precautions, and be sensitive to differing requirements and local attitudes across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Source: lonelyplanet