By Chris King • 04 January 2022 • 2:11
It is believed that ministers in the UK have conceded that the requirement for UK arrivals over the age of 12, regardless of their vaccination status, to take a pre-departure Covid test, does not serve its purpose anymore.
The measure had recently been implemented at the start of December, to help combat the spread of the Omicron strain of coronavirus in Britain. With the variant currently running rife in the UK, it is understood that the measure is about to be scrapped.
A government source reportedly told The Times, “Pre-departure tests were brought in to try to slow the spread of Omicron and stop it coming into the UK. Now that Omicron is dominant in the UK, and everywhere, it reduces the argument for having it. We have other ways of slowing the spread through domestic testing”.
“Analysis conducted by the UK Health and Security Agency indicates that the window between infection and infectiousness may be shorter for the Omicron variant, which increases the efficacy of pre-departure testing as it is more likely to identify positive cases before travel”, the Government had said when the tests were re-introduced.
“In light of this emerging evidence, and the changing global picture with regards to the spread of Omicron, anyone wishing to travel to the UK from countries and territories not on the red list must also show proof of a negative PCR or lateral flow pre-departure test, taken no earlier than 2 days before departure”.
It is understood that the requirement to take a PCR test within two days of arriving in the UK will remain in place even if pre-departure tests are dropped.
In a statement, ABTA, the travel trade body, said, “The Government has always been clear that once the Omicron variant is widespread across the UK there would be little rationale for retaining any restrictions on international travel”.
“It’s vitally important therefore that the additional testing requirements that were introduced are removed as quickly as possible, in line with scientific and medical advice, particularly as we are fast approaching the key booking season for next summer”, it continued.
“With average annual revenue across the travel industry down by nearly 80 per cent on pre-crisis levels – even before Omicron emerged – the Government must also urgently consider the case for furlough and other income support, especially if travel restrictions are going to be maintained for any significant period”, the statement concluded, as reported by inews.co.uk.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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