The UK is introducing new COVID-19 restrictions to get ahead of the Omicron variant spread © Getty Images
The UK is introducing new COVID-19 restrictions to get ahead of the Omicron variant spread © Getty Images

The UK has updated its travel rules amid Omicron spread

TripFalcon November 30, 2021

Last Update: 2024-01-03 22:12:20

The UK government is once again tweaking its travel rules, this time in response to the detection of the Omicron strain of COVID-19 in the country.

As of Tuesday, November 30, every passenger arriving into the UK from another country (apart from Ireland) will be required to take a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival, and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. Passengers will need to do some research and pre-book their PCR test before traveling. That's because they'll need to include the test's booking reference in the passenger locator form, which is to be completed up to 48 hours before departure. The rules apply to adults and children between the ages of five and 17.

Only tests booked through a government-approved provider will be accepted. Tests cost between £75-140 (US $100-186), depending on the provider, and passengers will have to cover the cost themselves. 

Previously, passengers could take an antigen or lateral flow test upon arrival but the government announced this weekend that it will only allow PCR results. This is in response to the emergence of the new Omicron COVID-19 strain in the UK, which the World Health Organization has labelled as a "variant of concern" that poses a "very high" global risk.

The UK has also banned arrivals from 10 southern African countries including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola. Those countries have been added to the red list, meaning that returning UK or Irish citizens will have to stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel for at least 10 days if they have previously been in red listed countries in the past 10 days.

After dropping all domestic COVID-19 restrictions in July, the UK is now bringing back its mask mandate. Face coverings will be compulsory in shops and on public transport from November 30, but hospitality venues like restaurants and bars will be exempt.

If you have a trip to the UK booked, remember that you'll also need to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test, and 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