Ministers have announced new restrictions on the entry of the UK in response to the new Omicron variant of coronavirus, and will re-introduce pre-departure testing for all incoming passengers from next week.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said passengers will have to show proof of a negative test before departure, regardless of their vaccination status, from Tuesday 4pm.
Nigeria will be added to the travel “red list” on Monday morning, becoming the 11th African country to go on the list.
People arriving from red list countries must be quarantined for 10 days at their own expense in a hotel approved by the government.
“In light of the most recent data, we are taking further steps to slow down the invasion of the Omicron variant,” Javid said Saturday night.
Ministers have significantly tightened travel rules over the past week in response to the variant, first identified in Southern Africa, which is sending a wave of uncertainty through the travel industry.
In addition to returning from the red list, arriving passengers must take a PCR test within two days of their arrival and must isolate themselves until they get a negative result.
Airlines, airports and other travel companies have reacted with dismay to the return of pre-departure tests, which they say is a significant deterrent to leisure travel.
British Airways CEO Sean Doyle said the news was a “devastating blow” and that customers “will now be faced with uncertainty and chaos”.
“The general reinstatement of tests to enter the UK, in addition to the current regime of isolation and PCR tests on arrival, is completely out of step with the rest of the world, with every other country following a measured approach. on science, “he said.
Karen Dee, chief executive of The Airport Operators Association, said she expected “most of the limited remaining demand for travel” would “fall away”.
Dee called on government support to help businesses through another period of reduced travel demand.
“Travel and aviation are the only sectors affected by any operational constraints in response to the Omicron variant,” she said.
Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, supported the extensive red list, but criticized the new test requirements.
“It is premature to hit millions of passengers and the industry before we see the full data. We do not have the clinical evidence, “he said.