Here are the new Covid travel rules which begin today
- Credit: Denise Bradley
As cases of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron continue to rise, the government has put in place new rules for those travelling in and out of the UK.
The changes to travel came into play from 4am on Tuesday, December 7.
What are the latest rules when travelling?
Anyone travelling to the UK from countries not included on the red list will be required to take a pre-departure test a maximum of 48 hours before leaving - regardless of their vaccination status.
Nigeria was also added to the government’s travel red list.
Only British and Irish nationals travelling from Nigeria will be allowed into the UK and must isolate in a government-managed quarantine hotel for 10 days.
Why have the new rules on testing been introduced?
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An analysis by the UK Health and Security Agency (HSA) suggests that the window between infection and infectiousness may be shorter for the Omicron variant.
This increases the efficacy of pre-departure testing as it is more likely to identify positive cases before travel.
What are the current rules?
As of last week, PCR tests for Covid-19 for everyone arriving in the UK were made compulsory.
Ten countries were added to the red list and it was announced that all vaccinated passengers arriving in the UK must take a day two PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
The list consisted of Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
What if you're travelling from the Republic of Ireland?
Travellers from Ireland are exempt from the new testing and quarantine requirements for travelling to the UK.
This does not apply if you have been outside of the Common Travel Area in the 10 days before you arrive in the UK.
How has this changed since the summer?
All travellers coming to the UK must fill in a passenger locator form – even if they are just passing through – which they need to fill in 48 hours or less before their journey.
Fully vaccinated passengers travelling to the UK from many countries do not have to take a Covid test before travelling.
Back in August there was a risk-based traffic light system in place which determined the testing and quarantine requirements for arrivals into the UK.
Anyone arriving from green list countries were exempt from quarantine, while those who were fully vaccinated were exempt upon arriving from amber countries.
Those who had not had both doses of the vaccine had to self-isolate for 10 days, and take two post-arrival PCR tests.
Arrivals from red list countries had to stay in a quarantine hotel for 10 days.
In October, the amber and green lists were scrapped and countries and territories were categorised as either red or the rest of the world.
By the end of October, all countries were removed from the UK’s red list in line with public health advice.
Cases in the UK
UEA virus expert Paul Hunter said in an interview with the BBC Breakfast on Monday, December 6, that the Omicron variant will be the dominant Covid-19 variant in the UK within a month.
He also predicted that there were already more than 1,000 cases in the country - almost four times the number of known infections.
However, Professor Hunter said it was still too early to say how harmful Omicron was.