DestinationsRegulations regarding international travel to the UK have now been loosened after tightening measures were implemented in November 2021.

UK relaxes Omicron-related travel restrictions

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“When the Omicron variant was first identified, we rightly introduced travel restrictions to slow its arrival in our country,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
“When the Omicron variant was first identified, we rightly introduced travel restrictions to slow its arrival in our country,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/Vladislav Zolotov

Starting 7 January, the United Kingdom (UK) is once again scaling back its restrictions on international travel, having narrowed its entry requirements in late November as the Omicron variant infiltrated the globe.

The British government announced that fully vaccinated foreign visitors will no longer be required to get PCR-tested prior to departing for the UK, nor will they need to quarantine upon arrival, from 7 January.

Instead, vaccinated travellers will have the option of taking cheaper and easier lateral flow tests (a type of rapid test) after they’ve arrived in the country, but they’ll still need to schedule and pay for the test prior to travel. The test can be taken at any point within the first two days of their stay in the UK, with the day of arrival constituting Day 0.

Those who aren’t fully vaccinated must continue to abide by the current set of rules, which requires a pre-travel test taken within two days of departure, and PCR tests to be taken on Days 2 and 8 of a visitor’s stay (which must be booked and paid for in advance of travel to the UK).

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson explained the rationale behind the policy change during an address to the House of Commons on Wednesday. "Our balanced approach also means that, where specific measures are no longer serving their purpose, they will be dropped," he said. "So, when the Omicron variant was first identified, we rightly introduced travel restrictions to slow its arrival in our country. But, now Omicron is so prevalent, these measures are having limited impact on the growth in cases while continuing to pose significant costs to our travel industry.”

He added that pre-departure testing was believed to be deterring international travellers from taking trips to the UK, "for fear of being trapped overseas and incurring significant extra expense," Travel + Leisure reported.

The UK is among those that have seen a surge in cases stemming from Omicron, with government data showing nearly 180,000 new cases on 6 January, and a week-over-week average increase of almost 30%.

However, much of the UK’s population is fully vaccinated, with over 82% of residents 12 and older having received their first two jabs, and just over 60 percent having gotten a booster or third dose.

Source: TravelPulse

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