Pre-departure travel tests have outlived their usefulness, according to Covid – Shapps

Pre-departure travel tests have outlived their usefulness, according to Covid - Shapps
Pre-departure travel tests have outlived their usefulness/ Courtesy of Facebook

According to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, the current Covid testing system for people traveling to England has “outlived its usefulness,” as Omicron is now “widespread and worldwide.”


He said the system, which was put in place to slow Omicron’s spread, had “done its part” ahead of a rule change later this week.


For fully vaccinated travelers, pre-departure tests will be discontinued, and lateral flow tests will replace PCRs on day two.


Ministers will “ensure a stable system is in place for 2022,” according to Mr. Shapps.


The reorganization was announced on Wednesday after travel companies complained that the existing measures were ineffective now that Omicron had spread widely.


All fully vaccinated travelers over the age of 12 must show proof of a negative lateral flow or PCR test taken in the two days prior to arriving in the UK under the current rules, which are in effect until Friday. People who have been fully vaccinated must also pay for a PCR test within two days of arrival and isolate themselves while waiting for the results.


People who haven’t been fully vaccinated must now take PCR tests on days two and eight after arriving, as well as self-isolate for ten days.


However, under the new rules;


  • Fully vaccinated travelers and under-18s will no longer be required to take a pre-departure test two days before traveling to England as of 04:00 GMT on Friday. They will be required to take a PCR test upon arrival, but they will not be required to self-isolate while waiting for the results.
  • On day two, they will only have to take a lateral flow test instead of a PCR test, starting at 04:00 GMT on Sunday. This test must be purchased privately; free NHS tests are not permitted.
  • Passengers who have not been vaccinated must continue to take a pre-departure test, PCR tests on days two and eight, and self-isolate for ten days.

People traveling abroad should continue to check the country’s travel regulations.


Despite UK-wide talks on what the rules should be, Scotland’s health minister, Humza Yousaf, expressed his “frustration” that the changes were only announced for England. He stated that he would provide an update on Thursday afternoon, while Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan stated that Wales would “reluctantly” align with England.


Northern Ireland has also stated that it will follow suit.


Dr. Sarah Pitt, a virologist at the University of Brighton, said it was “sensible” to test people before they boarded a plane because about one-third of those with Covid have no symptoms but can infect others.


“It’s not that you’re at an increased risk because you’ve been traveling,” she explained, “but people should be testing themselves on a regular basis anyway.”

PCR tests have been used for travelers because, unlike lateral flow tests, they can detect if someone has the Omicron variant.


When asked if the rule change could mean that new variants are missed among immigrants, he said that anyone who has a positive lateral flow test should get a PCR test through the NHS so that it can be checked for new variants using sequencing techniques.


Mr Shapps claimed that the UK had a much higher level of sequencing than any other country in the world, and that it was closely monitoring new variants “regardless of whether it starts here or elsewhere.”


He warned that if a new source of concern surfaced, stricter travel restrictions could be reinstated, and he had previously tweeted that the rules would be reviewed by the end of the month.


The travel industry applauded the loosening of regulations.


The changes, according to EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren, will make travel “much simpler and easier,” as customers will be able to book and travel with “confidence.”


Mark Tanzer, CEO of the travel association Abta, said it had “potentially very positive implications,” but that “damage had already been done.”


“As we enter what is usually the peak booking season for summer holidays,” he added, “we hope to see confidence return.”


The timing of the announcement, according to Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2, will make a “huge difference.”


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