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UK introduces pre-departure testing

The UK government has confirmed that from 4am on Tuesday (7 December) all arrivals must show proof of a negative PCR or lateral flow test taken before departure.

The requirement applies to vaccinated passengers and children over 12, and must be taken no more than 48 hours before departure.

A sudden change of mind

Last Thursday (2 December), UK transport secretary Grant Shapps had ruled out a return to pre-departure testing, saying ministers don’t want to unnecessarily “kill off the travel sector again.”

He insisted that the government had introduced a ‘calibrated response’ to the new Omicron variant “which doesn’t take us right back to the beginning of this.”

The sudden change of mind has prompted a furious reaction by the UK travel industry.

Abta responded to the announcement that pre-departure would be reintroduced by saying that it will be “a huge blow to travellers and an already devastated travel industry.”

“While we have always been clear that public health must be the priority at this time, the government must now step up to save jobs and businesses,” the statement continued.

Airlines will be required to check for pre-departure tests alongside a completed passenger locator form, and passengers will not be allowed to board a flight without providing evidence of a negative test result.


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