COVID-19: Travel industry says return of pre-departure testing for all UK arrivals a ‘devastating blow’ – as Nigeria is added to red list

COVID-19: Travel industry says return of pre-departure testing for all UK arrivals a ‘devastating blow’ – as Nigeria is added to red list

Airlines have said the return of pre-departure coronavirus testing for all international arrivals to the UK would be a “devastating blow to aviation and tourism”.

The rule is introduced to control the spread of Variante Omicron and applies to all travelers over 12 visiting the UK or returning from vacation, regardless of their vaccination status. It will come into effect from 4 a.m. on Tuesday, December 7.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the measure is due to “an increasing number of travel-related cases”. The tests must be taken a maximum of 48 hours before the departure time.

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People arriving at Heathrow will now need to take a coronavirus test before departure

British Airways Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle called the move a “devastating blow”.

He said: ‘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 with all other countries taking an approach. measured based on science.

“Our customers will now be faced with uncertainty and chaos and once again this is a devastating blow to all who work in the travel industry. “

The Airport Operators Association echoed Mr Doyle’s comments, saying pre-departure testing would be a “devastating blow to aviation and tourism”.

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Airlines UK CEO Tim Alderslade said rapid changes to UK entry requirements have made it “impossible” for the travel industry to plan ahead.

He said: “It is premature to reach millions of passengers and industries before seeing the full data.

“We don’t have the clinical evidence. Extending the redlist made perfect sense – that’s what it’s here for – but we know from experience that general restrictions don’t stop the import of variants. “

Labor is in favor of the government’s move but said it was too late, with Home Secretary Yvette Cooper tweeting: “Finally!

Phantom Health Secretary Wes Streeting posted on Twitter: “Finally, the Health Secretary accepts the call from Labor for pre-departure testing, but why up to 48 hours before the flight? “

In addition to testing all international arrivals, Nigeria is added to the travel red list – joining several southern African countries that were listed there after the Omicron variant was first detected in the UK at the end of last month.

This means that only British citizens and residents will be able to enter the country from Nigeria, and they will have to pay to stay in a quarantine hotel for 10 days.

The change comes from 4 a.m. on Monday, with Mr. Javid saying Nigeria is “second behind South Africa in Omicron-related cases”.

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Mr Streeting added that there were “27 cases already in England and it is increasing”.

Globally, there are now 160 confirmed cases of Omicron in the UK, with British scientists having suggested that it might have a “shorter incubation period” than the other variants.

Mr Javid acknowledged that the new measures are “extremely unfortunate” for people who already had travel plans, but insisted they would be “temporary”.

“We want to withdraw them as soon as possible”, he added, adding that “vaccines remain our first line of defense”.

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More than half of Omicron enclosures in the UK are double-stitched

Travel rules are the responsibility of decentralized administrations, but measures introduced by Downing Street are usually replicated elsewhere, and Scotland quickly announced the same testing requirements.

The new travel rules come as Mr Javid called on the public to get a booster shot before spending time with loved ones this Christmas.

Mr Javid said it was “absolutely crucial” for the public to “top up” their immunity before the holidays.

A total of 19.8 million people had received their third injection by December 4, while more than 51 million had received their first dose and nearly 46.5 million their second.

The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs estimates that 20 million people will have had the recall by December 5.


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