UK to require pre-arrival covid testing for all travelers
The UK will require all travelers to take a pre-flight Covid-19 test within 48 hours of their flight, regardless of their vaccination status, a surprise move by the government that prompted a swift and angry reaction from the airline industry.
The measure, which takes effect on December 7, will be temporary and will be reviewed as the omicron epidemic develops, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said. More than 150 people across the UK have been identified with the new variant.
Travelers will be allowed to take either an instant test or a PCR test. After omicron was detected in the UK a week ago, the government added a required PCR test within two days of arrival, forcing travelers to self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
The risk of a lost second winter has already weighed on airline stocks, with the Bloomberg EMEA Airline Index losing 18% in November, its worst monthly performance in more than a year.
‘Out of phase’
The government’s latest move could put more pressure on airlines and other travel-related companies just before the peak Christmas season. And coming a day after Transport Minister Grant Shapps said tourists would not need pre-departure testing, the government’s apparent turnaround drew criticism from British Airways, its pilots and agencies. industry, including Airlines UK.
“The general reintroduction of testing to enter the UK, in addition to the current regime of isolation and PCR testing on arrival is completely out of step with the rest of the world,” British Airways said.
The requirement also endangers airline jobs and the aviation industry as a whole, the carrier’s pilots’ association said. In his recent interview with the Daily Telegraph, Shapps specifically warned that such a move could kill the travel industry.
“The new costs and stress of travel appear designed to destroy confidence in air travel and the idea of ââfamilies being confident in booking to reunite while on vacation, many for the first time since Covid, is now a joke. cruel, “Martin Chalk, secretary general of the association, said in a statement.
Javid also announced that Nigeria will also be added to its red list of countries that require a 10-day hotel quarantine at the expense of the traveler.
Tim Alderslade, managing director of Airlines UK, approved the extension of the redlist, but said the new testing measures made it impossible for anyone to plan ahead.
“We know from experience that general restrictions do not stop the importation of variants,” he said. “It’s already there.”
(Adds comment from British Airways Pilots Association in ninth paragraph.)
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