Pre-departure Covid travel tests for international arrivals to England may be scrapped following a government review of Covid regulations this week, according to reports in the UK press.
The restriction, which requires all UK arrivals over the age of 12 to take a pre-flight Covid test, was introduced as part of the country’s so-called ‘Plan B’ measures.
However, government officials are reportedly now questioning the effectiveness of the restriction.
One source told the Times that: “Pre-departure tests were brought in to try to slow the spread of Omicron and stop it coming into the UK. Now that Omicron is dominant in the UK and everywhere it reduces the argument for having it. We have other ways of slowing the spread through domestic testing.”
However, new arrivals will still reportedly be required to take a PCR test within two days of arrival in England under the new rules.
No rationale for the requirement now that Omicron is dominant
The Plan B measures were introduced last month in response to concerns about the new Omicron variant, and are scheduled for review on 4 January, three weeks after their introduction.
According to travel industry association Abta: “The Government has always been clear that once the Omicron variant is widespread across the UK there would be little rationale for retaining any restrictions on international travel. It’s vitally important therefore that the additional testing requirements that were introduced are removed as quickly as possible, in line with scientific and medical advice, particularly as we are fast approaching the key booking season for next summer.”
The organisation added that with average annual revenue across the travel industry down around 80 per cent on pre-crisis levels due to travel restrictions, the government should consider the case for further income support for the industry.
Meanwhile, Israel has already announced that it will ease its Omicron-related Covid travel restrictions from 9 January.