The UK government have decided it is time to open up the UK for business and travel, as the number of the Omicron variant of COVID cases continues to fall, which is why they have decided that from next month fully vaccinated travellers arriving in England and Scotland will no longer have to take any COVID-19 tests – either before departure or after arrival.
Statement by the Transport Secretary
In a statement on Monday 24th January Grant Shapps, the transport secretary stated that travellers who were fully vaccinated (had two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of the Janssen/J+J vaccine) no longer need to take a pre-departure or post-arrival test – from 4 am on the 11th February.
He went on to say 2022 would be “the year in which restrictions on travel, on lockdowns and limits on peoples lives, are firmly placed in the past. It means that after months of pre-departure testing, post-arrival testing, self-isolation, additional expense, all that fully vaccinated people will now how to do when they travel to the UK, is to verify their status via a passenger locator form.”
This only applies to fully vaccinated travellers, although the rules are relaxing for not fully vaccinated as well, as they will no longer be required to do a day eight test after arriving in the UK and they will also not have to quarantine anymore either.
Mr Shapps also announced that vaccinations from 18 more countries would now be recognised, which means that vaccinated people from 118 countries can now enter England. He also said that from the 3rd of February, 12 to 15 years olds would be able to prove their vaccination status for outbound international travel through the NHS pass.
Wales and Northern Ireland have not yet announced if they will make changes to their testing rules in line with England and Scotland, but they are expected to.
What are the existing travel rules?
Fully vaccinated travellers aged five and over who are travelling to the UK must take a lateral flow test (LFT) or PCR test within 48 hours of arrival. Free NHS tests can not be used for this purpose, tests for travel must be bought from a private provider, like Fit2FlyTest.
If the traveller opts for an LFT test and it returns a positive result, then they must self-isolate and take a PCR test to confirm the result.
All travellers also have to fill in a passenger locator form no more than 48 hours before arrival, even if they are just travelling through the UK on their way to somewhere else.
What are the new rules, exactly?
Fully vaccinated travellers and children under the age of 18 who are travelling to England or Scotland, will no longer need to take a lateral flow test on day 2 after arrival.
Travellers who are not fully vaccinated will no longer have to take a COVID test on day 8 after arrival or self-isolate. They will, however, still have to show proof of a negative COVID test taken no later than 2 days before they travel and they must also still take a PCR test after arrival.
Both fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers will also have to still fill in a passenger locator form.
How can travellers prove their vaccination status?
Residents of the European Union can use the EU Digital COVID Certificate to show their vaccination status or negative test results.
If you are a resident of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales then you can download a digital COVID pass to your phone through the NHS app.
Fit2FlyTest, a gold standard provider of COVID travel test, have a variety of tests available aimed at proving you are fit to travel, from the comfort of your own home.