Breaking: Arrivals to UK must provide negative pre-departure Covid test

The UK Government has just announced that arrivals into the UK must show a negative pre-departure Covid test before entering the country.

The new rule begins on Tuesday 7 December, Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced today. UPDATE: It can be a lateral flow or PCR test, and must be taken within two days of leaving for the UK.

Currently, anyone entering the UK from a country that is not on the red list must self-isolate and take a PCR test two days after their arrival, and can only leave their quarantine when they receive a negative result.

However, if a country is on the red list, only UK and Irish residents are allowed to travel from it into the country and they must quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days at their own cost. Non-UK and Irish residents who have been in a red list country in the past 10 days are not permitted to enter the UK.

The Health Security Agency has rated the new Omicron variant as “red” for severity of infection and “amber” for transmissibility between humans.

It said the variant was likely to reduce the protection from both naturally or vaccine-acquired immunity.

However, it acknowledged there was so far “insufficient data” to reach firm conclusions and the assessment was presented with “low confidence”.

Dr Harries said: “We are working as fast as possible to gather more evidence about any impact the new variant may have on the severity of disease or vaccine effectiveness.

“Until we have this evidence, we must exercise the highest level of caution in drawing conclusions about any significant risks to people’s health.” This information has pushed the government towards the need for a pre-departure Covid test for UK arrivals.

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Written by

Claire Gordon