The UK’s health secretary, Sajid Javid, announced on Saturday the 4th of December that, for travellers entering the UK, pre-departure tests will be required from December 7th (Tuesday). It has also been announced that from 4 am on Monday the 6th of December, Nigeria has been moved to the red list.

In response to data concerning the Omicron Covid variant, these measures have been put in place to provide time to investigate further and protect public health. These measures will be reviewed again on the 20th of December, the government stated.

Applying to all travellers, the addition of the pre-departure test is a surprise to many in the travel industry. Sajid Javid was confident this was the correct step to take until we can know more about the variant and how it spreads.

“Since we learned of this new variant our strategy has been to buy time…time to assess it but also to put in place protective measures. We always said that we would act swiftly if new data required it,” Sajid Javid said.

“Over the recent days we have learned of a significant number of growing cases linked to travel with Nigeria.

“Nigeria is second only to South Africa in terms of linked cases to Omicron.”

After consulting the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA), the government added, “Passengers are advised to take the pre-departure test as close as possible to their scheduled departure to the UK and no earlier than 48 hours before travelling.”

This means that any travellers entering the UK after Tuesday the 7th of December will need to provide proof of a negative Covid test taken within 48 hours of travel to the UK. This can be either a lateral flow test or a PCR test.

The government has stated that taking these tests as close to departure as possible is optimal, and the use of them will be a great advantage since it is suspected that the window between infection and infectiousness is shorter for the Omicron variant than other strains of Covid.

The addition of pre-departure tests can seem like a daunting change, but this is another precaution the government are taking for public safety and time to react. As always, we advise travellers to always keep up to date on the Foreign Travel Advice page to gauge the restrictions on your destination, and if you have any concerns, your travel agent is only a phone call away.

For complete financial protection and expert advice travelling at the moment, don’t forget to book with a trusted PTS member. Or, if you’d like assistance choosing one of our lovely PTS members to book with, you can contact PTS directly at 0207 190 9988.

And if you’d like to learn more about the current day-2 PCR restrictions, your consumer protection with PTS or how the Package Travel Regulations protect your holiday booking, check out our pages.

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