When news about the highly infectious Omicron variant broke out, the British government responded by reimposing several travel restrictions in order to stop the variant from entering the country. One of those measures included bringing back mandatory testing for travellers coming into the UK.
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However, their efforts to prevent the entry of the virus was indeed a massive failure and now the variant is driving the biggest wave of infections till date.
In light of recent events, authorities have noticed that the pre-departure testing for arriving passengers has now been made redundant by widespread community transmission.
As ministers are currently discussing the need for plan B measures to combat the Omicron variant, a senior government official has hinted that pre-departure testing ‘will soon be scrapped.’ They told Times that:
Pre-departure tests were brought in to try to slow the spread of Omicron and stop it coming into the UK.
Paul Charles, CEO of The PC Agency, who also ‘provides policy advice to Governments’ confirmed that ministers will be discussing pre-departure testing in this week’s review of rules. He wrote:
Pre-departure tests will be going in this week’s review of #Omicron rules; so should arrival PCR tests and self-isolation. These particular measures kill off inbound business and leisure travel and still cost a small fortune on top of the trip itself. LTF tests are good enough.
Currently, every vaccinated individual who is entering the UK needs to take a PCR test a maximum of 2 days prior to departure and as well as a test taken on day 2 of arrival. Unvaccinated travellers must take an additional test on day 8.
But now that the Omicron variant has become the most dominant in the country, it is very likely that holidaymakers will not have to get tested before leaving their destination for the UK, Metro reports. Further details about when the rule will come into effect, and for whom, have yet to be disclosed but according to Mail Online day two testing will still be compulsory.
Meanwhile, Sky News reported that despite the continuous rise in infections new measures are not likely to be rolled out this week. Cabinet Office minister, Stephen Barclay, told the publication:
We don't think the data supports that at this stage.
The widespread use of testing is an illustration of the fact the British public are taking sensible steps to take themselves safe, to keep friends and family safe.
That's why there has been such a demand for testing in recent weeks.
So that, combined with the booster programme, is the key way as a country we will avoid the need for further measures.