Pre-departure COVID tests return for all UK arrivals – as another country added to red list

Politics

All international arrivals to the UK will again be required to take pre-departure COVID-19 tests to tackle the spread of the new Omicron variant, the health secretary has announced.

The rule applies to all travellers visiting the UK or returning from a holiday, regardless of vaccination status, and will come into force from 4am on Tuesday 7 December.

Tests must be taken a maximum of 48 hours before the departure time.

Sajid Javid said it was because of an “increasing number of cases linked to travel”.

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Travellers pass a sign for a COVID-19 test centre at Heathrow Airport
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The return of the testing requirement will be a blow for the travel industry

Nigeria is also being added to the travel red list – joining several southern African nations which were added after the Omicron variant was first detected late last month.

It means only UK citizens and residents will be able to enter the country from Nigeria, and they will have to pay to stay in a quarantine hotel for 10 days.

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That change comes in from 4am on Monday, with Mr Javid saying Nigeria “is second only to South Africa for cases linked to Omicron”.

Mr Javid acknowledged that the measures are “hugely unfortunate” for people who already had travel plans, but insisted that they would be “temporary”.

“We want to remove them as soon as we possibly can,” he added.

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