File photograph of Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport. / SUR

Coronavirus test rules change for travellers arriving in England

Passengers will be able to take a less expensive lateral flow test on day two instead of a PCR test and no longer need to quarantine while waiting for results

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Fully vaccinated travellers to England will be able to take a lateral flow test on day two and will not be required to self-isolate while waiting for results. Nor will they need to take a pre-departure test before travelling.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Wednesday that the pre-departure test will no longer be needed from 7 January at 4am, when the requirement to self-isolate while waiting for post-arrival test results will also be removed.

From 4am on Sunday 9 January the post-arrival PCR test, currently required, can be replaced by a cheaper lateral flow test.

Shapps tweeted, “We're removing the temporary extra testing measures we introduced last year at the border to slow cases of Omicron coming to the UK. Now Omicron is the dominant variant and is widespread in the UK, these measures are no longer proportionate."

“By reducing testing requirements for fully vaxxed passengers to just a lateral flow post-arrival, we're supporting the safe reopening of international travel. We'll do a full review of travel measures by the end of January to ensure a stable system is in place for 2022,” he added.

In response to the latest announcement on changes to international travel testing measures, Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of the Association of British Travel Agents said, "The Government’s announcement that travellers will no longer have to take a pre-departure test on return to England is extremely welcome news.

"The removal of pre-departure testing recognises that with the Omicron variant now widespread throughout the country these tests do not serve a useful purpose. Pre-departure tests not only add to cost and create inconvenience, they can also plant a seed of doubt among some travellers who wonder ‘what will happen if I test positive abroad?’ which can be a considerable disincentive to booking an overseas trip.

"We also welcome the move to change post-arrival day two PCR tests to cheaper lateral flow tests, returning to the process in place in October 2021 before Omicron emerged and reducing testing costs for travellers,” he added.