Just after 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, P&O Ferries’ Kent’s Pride tied up at Dover after a short trip from Calais. Simultaneously, Virgin Atlantic Flight 207 from Hong Kong landed at London Heathrow after a 13-hour flight.
Passengers arriving on ferries and planes are the first to be required to take a pre-departure test The latest policy change for travelers to the UK.
All overseas arrivals aged 12 and over, regardless of immunization status, must now take the test on the day of departure to the UK or either day before.
The only exceptions are for visitors from Ireland (part of the Common Travel Area).
Ministers have called the imposition of the new restrictions a “flame” needed to limit the import of the omicron virus.
Last week, the secretary of transport, Grant Shapps, warned that reintroducing pre-departure tests could “kill the tourism industry”.
But when the change was announced on Saturday, he tweeted: “As scientists work to understand the new omicron variant, we need to cautiously add until the picture is clearer.
“We appreciate this will be difficult for the travel sector as we prioritize public health and protect the advancement of our world-leading vax and booster program.”
On Monday, the Health Secretary told MPs that there had been local transmission of the omicron variant in the UK.
Sajid Javid said 336 confirmed omicron cases had been recorded across the UK – a figure thought to be severely low.
“This includes cases with no link to international travel. So we can conclude that there is now community transmission across many parts of England,” he told parliament.
The move, backed by Labor, has been accepted across the travel industry.
Airlines, resort companies and cruise and ferry routes are appalled by the latest government change, which has caused widespread concern and uncertainty.
Charlie Cornish, CEO of Group of Manchester Airports – which includes Stansted and East Midlands airports – said: “Uncertainty and lack of transparency in decision-making is destroying consumer confidence in travel and will hold back the recovery of one UK’s most important industries.
“Continued with no recognition from government or opposition to the impact of these restrictions.”
To enable Finnish Lapland holidaymakers to meet the new rules, Britain’s largest holiday company, I, is required sent a Boeing 737 on a 2,750-mile round trip from Birmingham to the North Pole to conduct 3,500 Covid-19 tests.
Another undesirable consequence is that three-day trips have been discouraged. Travelers can take the mandatory “pre-departure” test even before they leave the UK, eliminating the risk of being stranded abroad.
The new rules will be reviewed on December 20, five days before Christmas.
https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/travel-omicron-test-departure-passengers-b1971066.html New Covid travel testing rules: PCR testing, self-isolation testing and pre-departure testing