Pre-departure Covid tests for arriving in England ‘to be scrapped’

It is thought the tests are largely redundant now the Omicron variant is widespread across the country (Picture: PA / Getty Images)

Travel requirements for people entering England which say people must take a Covid-19 test before leaving for the country are likely to be dropped this week.

The Government is set to review travel testing requirements in the next few days, and senior sources suggest pre-departure tests will no longer be needed.

One source told the Times that ‘pre-departure tests were brought in to try to slow the spread of Omicron and stop it coming into the UK’, but it is thought the tests are largely redundant now the Omicron variant is widespread across the country.

Plan B measures, which were introduced at the beginning of December, are also set to be reviewed by Wednesday – including mask-wearing, working from home rules and vaccine passports – but most of these restrictions are likely to remain, it is thought.

It will be the first time ministers have met to discuss the situation since before Christmas.

Since then, cases of both coronavirus and the Omicron variant have soared in the UK and numbers of hospitalisations have almost doubled, reaching the same level as last February.

Despite this sources suggest measures will remain the same and not be increased, as the Government is waiting for more data.

Edward Argar, a minister at the Department of Health and Social Care, predicted yesterday hospital figures would continue to increase for at least another two weeks.

The number of coronavirus cases have soared across the UK over the festive period (Picture: Metro.co.uk)
Despite this pre-departure tests are likely to be scrapped, with only day 2 PCR testing remaining (Picture: PA)

But he said he was ‘seeing nothing at the moment in the data right in front of me in the immediate situation that suggests a need for further restrictions’.

‘We need cool, calm heads,’ he said in an interview with Times Radio.

‘We need to look at the data and we need to do everything possible to avoid any restrictions.’ 

When asked if tougher rules were needed in England, cabinet office minister Steve Barclay told Sky News: ‘We don’t think the data supports that at the moment.

‘Of course, we keep the data under review, but we’ve seen significant behaviour change as a result of Plan B.’

A source also told the i ministers are ‘cautiously optimistic’ but added ‘things could change in a single day’.

The head of the World Health Organisation also said the end of the Covid-19 pandemic could be in sight this year. 

At the moment double-vaccinated travellers must take a pre-departure test, and self-isolate until they receive a negative result after arriving in England. Those who have not received two jabs must self-isolate for 10 days after they arrive.

Although pre-departure tests are likely to be dropped, PCR tests on day 2 are expected to remain.

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