Omicron: International travel restrictions criticised by expert
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As the Omicron variant slowly spreads across the UK, the Government has put new restrictions in place for anyone arriving in the UK. Travellers must now show proof of a negative Covid test before they travel.
Anyone who has come into contract of a suspected Omicron case is already required to self-isolate for 10 days – including those who are fully vaccinated.
There are currently 336 confirmed cases of the new variant in the UK.
It comes after Health Secretary Said Javid spoke about Omicron spreading in multiple areas of England.
He told MPs on Monday the variant is spreading “here and around the world”.
There was also people who have tested positive for Omicron in the UK “with no links to international travel”.
The new restorations will see people arriving in the UK having to self-isolate until they receive a negative PCR test on day two after their arrival, and then all travellers over the age of 12 will have to show proof of a negative PCR or lateral flow test – even if they are fully vaccinated – before getting on an aeroplane and returning to the UK.
The lateral flow test must be taken no more than 48 hours before leaving for the UK.
Private test providers must also be used – the free NHS lateral flow kits are not allowed.
As for how much the tests could cost, a pre-departure screening costs an average of £20 and a day two PCR tests is around £80.
The Government website does list day two PCR test providers showing numerous suppliers charging £180 or more per person.
One company was listed as offering a day two PCR test at a cost of £399 per person.
The introduction of pre-departure tests for travellers entering the UK has been called a “devastating blow” for the travel industry by the Chief Executive of the Airport Operations Association.
Karen Dee told PA Media that the policy will act as a “major deterrent” to travel.
“Most of the limited remaining demand following the reintroduction of self-isolation will now fall away, just as airports were hoping for a small uplift over the Christmas holiday,” she said.
“Travel and aviation are the only sectors hit with any operating restrictions in response to the Omicron variant.
“The UK and devolved governments should have done the right thing and, alongside the restrictions, announced support for our businesses and our staff to get through another period of shutdown.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he understood the move would be tricky for the travel industry.
He tweeted: “As the scientists work to understand new Omicron variant we need to apply additional caution until picture is clearer.
“We appreciate this will be difficult for the travel sector as we prioritise public health & protect the progress of our world-leading vax & booster programme.”
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