Travel to the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland is about to get a little easier: pre-arrival COVID-19 testing for the two regions is being eased for fully vaccinated passengers.
The UK's new rules kick in at 4 a.m. on Friday, Jan 7, and will apply to individuals entering England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who are fully vaccinated or under 18 years old.
Under the new policy, eligible travellers will be permitted to enter these countries without producing a negative PCR or an antigen test.
A negative test must still be submitted within the first two days of arrival, but incoming travellers will no longer need to self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
Also, starting Sunday, Jan. 9, international passengers will be able to choose a cheaper lateral flow test, instead of a costly PCR test, to fulfill that 48-hour testing requirement.
All UK arrivals must still complete a Passenger Locator Form before arrival, however.
"Measures are having limited impact"
The United Kingdom first introduced mandatory pre-departure testing on Dec. 7, 2021.
This week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the measure was intended to help slow the arrival of the Omicron variant, but now the variant is now "so prevalent, these measures are having limited impact…while continuing to pose significant loses to our travel industry."
The eased measures, at first, only applied only to England, but Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland soon followed along with the same requirements.
Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland is also welcoming eased testing restrictions.
For visitors arriving into the Republic of Ireland from Jan. 6, vaccinated people with a valid Digital COVID Certificate, or another valid proof of recent infection or vaccination, will not need a test.
Unvaccinated people will need a “not detected” PCR test result taken within 72 hours of their arrival.
“Tourism Ireland welcomes news about the lifting of additional pre-testing requirement for travel to the island of Ireland, introduced on foot of the emergence of the Omicron variant,” said Jocelyn Black, senior publicity and communications executive at Tourism Ireland, in a release on Thursday (Jan. 6).
More details and the latest information can be found here.
“Tourism Ireland very much welcomes the news that visitors will no longer be required to take a pre-travel COVID test before entry to the island of Ireland. This will boost visitor confidence when planning their holiday. The health and safety of all our visitors continues to be the priority, and we will ensure they are protected alongside a very warm Irish welcome and a great holiday experience,” said Sandra Moffatt, manager at Tourism Ireland, on Thursday.
“Our message – and that of the entire Irish tourism industry – is very simple: we cannot wait to roll out the green carpet and welcome back visitors from Canada and elsewhere around the world.”