Fully vaccinated travelers who return to Britain may be able to use a cheaper lateral flow swab when getting back into the country, but the government is concerned that those who are taking those tests could lie about the results. The U.K. government is proposing that travelers do their lateral flow tests while on video calls supervised by the health adviser from private firms.
This mandate is set to be implemented on Oct. 25.
The U.K. government has implemented a simplified travel system to facilitate international traveling. The new system replaces the previous traffic-light system and categorizes countries as "red" territories or the "rest of the world."
Under this new system, fully vaccinated passengers and eligible minors from over 50 countries and places not on the red list can return to the U.K. with no pre-departure test (PDT) necessary. The removal of the traffic light system also means that fully jabbed travelers will require fewer tests when returning from other countries.
The previous ten-day self-isolation period for these passengers have also been withdrawn. Eligible travelers from a select group of non-red nations who have been inoculated with an approved vaccine will not have the option to replace day two testing with a cheaper lateral flow test.
If passengers test positive for SARS-CoV-2, they will isolate themselves and undergo a confirmatory PCR test with no extra costs.
According to U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, they are accelerating towards a future where travel continues to reopen safely and remains open for good. He also said that the rule changes are good news for families, businesses and the travel sector.
"Our priority remains to protect public health but, with more than eight in ten people now fully vaccinated, we are able to take these steps to lower the cost of testing and help the sector to continue in its recovery," Shapps says.
The new regulations also mandate that passengers under 18 years from countries whose vaccination status is recognized by the U.K. will no longer need to present a negative PTD before traveling back to England. (Related: Higher vaccination rates translate to higher covid cases as LEAKY, non-sterilizing vaccines worsen the pandemic.)
Passengers below 11 years are exempted from the pre-departure testing requirement, but those over 11 years of age who are not traveling from one of the over 50 countries and territories where the vaccines are recognized will still be required to follow the same rules as those for unvaccinated passengers.
The U.K.'s early handling of the COVID-19 pandemic remains one of the worst public health failures in U.K. history, as ministers and scientists took a "fatalistic" approach that increased the death toll.
The crisis has exposed many deficiencies in the government, with public bodies unable to share vital information and scientific advice due to a lack of transparency and input from international experts.
For a country with world-class expertise in data analysis, the consequences are profound as it faces the biggest health crisis in 100 years.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not order a complete lockdown on the U.K until late March 2020, two months after the government's committee of scientific advisers first met to discuss the pandemic. Decisions on lockdowns and social distancing during the early weeks of the pandemic have led to experts ranking it as one of the most important public health failures that the U.K. has ever experienced.
Get more COVID-19 updates at Pandemic.news.