The UK Government is constantly tweaking and updating the laws around travelling and testing, in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19 around the world. These laws are made to keep the public safe while trying to be as convenient and easy to follow as possible. The biggest recent change the government have made has been to the rules surrounding quarantine, with travellers who meet certain criteria now able to bypass quarantine entirely and move freely about the UK once they arrive.
The new quarantine and testing rules
The new rules around quarantine and testing replace the previous traffic light system, which stated that:
- Arrivals from red list countries were barred from entry to the UK
- Arrivals from amber list countries had to undertake stringent testing and quarantine requirements
- Arrivals from green list countries had a relativey swift travel experience
The rules have now changed and there are just two categories of countries that exist – red list and non-red list.
These new rules mean that all individuals from non-red list countries can travel to the UK – as long as they are fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine. They do not need to take any COVID tests before they depart their country of origin – they just need to be able to provide proof of vaccination in the form of a vaccination card or certificate (depending on their country of origin). They do need to take a pre-booked lateral flow test (LFT), however, on day 2 after their arrival in the UK.
Those travellers who are coming from red list countries into the UK, and who are either UK or Irish nationals or UK residents – can enter the UK only if they take a PCR test before departure as well as a Day 2 and Day 8 PCR test on arrival into the UK, regardless of their vaccination status. They also need to quarantine for 10 days as well.
These rules also apply to travellers from non-red list countries if they are not fully vaccinated or they have been vaccinated with a vaccine that is not on the approved list.
Differences between a Lateral Flow Test and a PCR Test
Lateral flow tests (LFT) look for antigens (proteins) in the swab sample as a way of detecting the presence of COVID-19 – which is one of the main reasons this type of test is sometimes known as a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT).
PCR tests, Polymerase Chain Reaction tests, look for genetic material known as RNA.
Lateral flow tests tend to be cheaper in price than PCR tests, and they also have a faster delivery time for results (around 30 minutes as compared to 24 hours for a PCR tests). Therefore, lateral flow tests tend to be used when people need a quick result, and also when they need to be tested frequently.
Although lateral flow tests are believed to be fairly accurate, PCR tests are known to be more accurate in comparison. In most cases there is nothing to worry about, but if you test positive on an LFT test you should also take a PCR test just to confirm the result.
The two tests differ in many ways, and you can read more on their differences in our blog post: “What’s the difference between lateral flow and PCR tests?”.
How to get a Day 2 and Day 8 test
Day 2 and Day 8 tests for COVID-19 can be purchased online in advance of your holiday, from any government-approved test provider – such as Fit2FlyTest.
Before you book your day 2 and day 8 tests, you will need to confirm whether you are fully vaccinated or not, and which country you are travelling from.
You will also need to fill in a passenger locator form before you travel, which may tell you to self-isolate if someone else on our flight has tested positive for COVID-19. Likewise, if you test positive for COVID-19 then the form will let everyone else on the flight know they need to self-isolate.
Stay up to date with requirements
The ever-changing rules and regulations surrounding travel during the COVID-19 pandemic reflect the ever-changing status of the pandemic itself. These current rules may change again depending on how well COVID is contained within the UK, so it is always wise to double-check the latest government guidance on their official website before you book any tests or set up quarantine arrangements.
Fit2FlyTest accredited laboratories offer day 2 and day 8 PCR tests and test-to-release tests as well. Cut out the middleman and help us help you to get back to doing what you enjoy.