Getting into Britain will soon be much easier for travelers. The region is set to drop Britain’s COVID-19 testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers by the end of January, according to The Times. The official announcement is set for January 26.
With the Omicron surge, the region strengthened restrictions to contain the virus. However, now that daily infections are rapidly declining, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to end almost all pandemic restrictions like the work from home guidance and vaccine passports used for nightclubs and events with large crowds. The UK reported 108,069 new positive cases on Wednesday, compared to the 218,724 reported two weeks prior. The requirement for face masks on public transportation is expected to stay in place until at least the end of cold and flu season. However, many UK officials worry that removing these restrictions may set Britain up for another Omicron surge.
“The NHS is under significant pressure,” Matthew Taylor, CEO of the National Health Services Confederation said according to Forbes. “Even with restrictions and many people going further to protect themselves and others, the number in hospital with COVID is high, and the numbers are only going down very slowly. High numbers of COVID patients and staff off sick has an inevitable effect on the work the health service can do, including the urgent task of making inroads into the treatment backlog and getting back to key performance targets.”
Earlier this month, Britain only required its citizens to test once they returned to avoid being barred from re-entry when returning home. Pre-departure testing was suspected to be putting people off. Airlines in the UK endorsed the government’s decision, calling it an essential step towards “learning to live alongside the virus.” Travelers also no longer need to take a PCR test and can substitute it with a rapid antigen test before the second day following arrival.
Note that unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travelers will still need to take at least three COVID-19 tests and self-isolate for 10-days upon arrival. Travelers heading back to the US will still need to take a COVID-19 test up to three days prior to departure.