Covid travel: Self-isolation rules scrapped for fully-vaccinated arrivals to England and Wales

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Self-isolation rules imposed on fully-vaccinated arrivals to England and Wales are to be scrapped from Friday, Boris Johnson has said.

People arriving in those parts of the UK will no longer be required to self-isolate while awaiting a PCR test result, the PM said, "returning instead to the system we had in October last year where those arriving in England will need to take a lateral flow test no later than the end of day two and if positive, a further PCR test".

The rule change, which will also allow travellers to use cheaper lateral flow tests and avoid paying for expensive PCR tests, means the possibility of going on holiday has once again opened up to millions of people who were being priced out.

Mr Johnson suggested scrapping the pre-departure test will mean people can avoid the "fear of being trapped overseas and incurring significant extra expenses".

Updating the House of Commons on his Covid rule-changes, he also said the requirement to take a pre-departure test before arriving in England is being removed.

The changes will come into force in England from 4am on Friday, January 7.

It is not yet clear whether Scotland or Northern Ireland will also make the change.

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The PM said the measures, imposed in response to fears about the Omicron Covid variant, will now have "limited impact on the growth of cases" because the prevalence of coronavirus in the population is so high.

Unvaccinated travellers will still be subject to strict border controls, as the government seeks to drive up immunity levels.

These people will be forced to quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for a 10 full days and they'll be required to take PCR tests on day two and day eight of isolation.

Another change announced on Wednesday will remove the requirement for people without Covid symptoms to take a PCR test after a positive Lateral Flow Test.

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From January 11, people told they are positive by a rapid-result test will no longer need to confirm that result using a more accurate PCR test, however those with "major symptoms" will still be advised to do so.

People who test positive using a lateral test will still be advised to upload their result to the NHS system, so Test and Trace can find contacts and advise them to test, and they must still isolate.

The temporary change applies throughout the UK after the devolved nations followed England in making the announcement.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, explaining the travel rule change, said: "Fully vaxxed passengers & under-18s will no longer need to take a pre-departure test before returning to England if arriving after 4am Fri 7 Jan.

"Fully vaxxed passengers & under 18s will no longer need to self-isolate whilst waiting for post-arrival results if arriving after 4am Friday 7 Jan.

"After arrival in England, all fully vaxxed people & under 18s will now only need to take a lateral flow test (instead of a PCR test) if they arrive after 4am Sunday 9 Jan. Free NHS lateral flow tests cannot be used for international travel, to protect NHS capacity.

"If your post-arrival lateral flow test comes out positive, you must self-isolate & take a free NHS PCR test to confirm the result."

Mr Shapps added the change in measures will support "the safe reopening of international travel" and "a full review of travel measures by the end of Jan" will take place.