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Travel update: pre-departure Covid tests dropped

PM Boris Johnson has today (5 January) announced that travellers arriving in England will no longer have to take pre-departure Covid tests from 4am on 7 January.

He also announced that travellers arriving in the UK will not have to isolate until they receive a negative PCR test.

Instead, travellers are asked to take a LFT on day two after their arrival. However, if the result is positive, another PCR test will be required and they will need to self-isolate.

Responding to the changes, Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic, said: “The removal of pre-departure testing before travel to the UK and costly PCR testing upon arrival is welcome progress and a necessary step towards frictionless air travel for our customers. Travellers can now book with confidence and look forward to reconnecting with loved ones and business colleagues.

"Meanwhile customer demand will be boosted in a critical booking window for the travel industry and vital testing capacity can be reallocated where it is needed the most - in hospitals, schools and crucial national infrastructure.”

Weiss added: “Throughout the pandemic we have demonstrated that international travel can operate safely, taking full advantage of our world leading vaccine rollout. We want to thank the Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Transport – and their teams - for working with us to lead the way in returning travel at scale, and in turn, boosting prospects for economic recovery. We look forward to working together towards the next review at the end of January, when the ultimate goal will be removal of all testing for travel and developing a playbook for how to deal with any new variants.”

The British Travel Association (BTA), were also pleased with the news. Clive Wratten, CEO of BTA, commented: “We welcome the news that pre-departure for the UK testing and arrival PCR tests are to be scrapped. These have caused unnecessary damage to the whole travel sector.

“We will now work with our members and partners to deliver safe international business travel so that the UK can once again be a truly global Britain. It is imperative that the government backs-up these measures with a robust plan for future variants that does not mean closing our borders and strangling our sector once more.”