These Are The New Travel Rules To Slow Down The Spread Of Omicron

All travellers will be required to take a Covid-19 pre-departure test, amid warnings that the time between infection and infectiousness could be shorter with the new strain.

Health secretary Sajid Javid cautioned the variant was spreading within communities, rather than just being linked to international travel.

On Monday, Javid told MPs: “The Omicron variant is continuing to spread here and around the world. According to the latest data there are now 261 confirmed cases in England, 71 in Scotland and four in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases across the UK to 336.

“This includes cases with no links to international travel. So, we can conclude that there is now community transmission across multiple regions of England.”

The decision on pre-departure tests followed calls from Labour to implement the process.

So, what are the new travel rules?

Anyone travelling to the UK from countries not 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.

If you test positive, you will not be allowed to travel. If you are an EU resident or citizen, you can use the EU Digital Covid Certificate (EU-DCC) to provide proof of your test result. This can be in either digital or paper format.

According to the government website, the test can be a PCR rest, a LAMP test or an antigen test, such as lateral flow test, but with performance standards of ≥97% specificity, ≥80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml.

NHS tests cannot be used for the purpose of pre-departure testing before travel to England, so you can’t take an NHS test abroad to use before you return.

If you have recently recovered from Covid but are no longer infectious, you should use a lateral flow test, which has lower sensitivity than or LAMP tests, so is less likely to return a positive result from a historic infection.

Scotland and Wales have said they will implement similar measures. However, the requirement has been greeted with dismay across the travel sector.

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