Your Covid-19 UK Immigration Update: December 2021

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In response to the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, the UK Government has revised rules for those entering the UK. We have set out below a summary of the new rules and how they may impact you. Unless stated otherwise, the rules outlined below apply to those entering all countries of Great Britain (i.e. excluding Northern Ireland).

What happened to the ‘Red List’?

As at 4am on 15 December 2021, the UK Government has removed all countries from the UK’s ‘Red List’. The government considered that Red List testing and quarantine measures no longer served their purpose of containing the Omicron variant.

Entering the UK from the ‘Rest of the World’

All countries and territories not on the ‘Red List’ are subject to the ‘Rest of the World’ rules. The Government has tightened Covid-19 related rules for those entering the UK from the ‘Rest of the World’, although the rules differ depending on whether or not you are fully vaccinated. You must have had a full course of an approved vaccine, either within the UK or by an approved overseas vaccination programme to qualify as fully vaccinated. You must also carry proof of your vaccination status in order to qualify for these rules. The fully vaccinated rules apply to all children under 18, regardless of vaccination status, and to those who are medically exempt from Covid-19 vaccination.

What are the new requirements for passengers arriving into the UK from the ‘Rest of the World’?

If you are fully vaccinated:

Before travelling you must:

1. Take a Covid-19 test. This can be a PCR test or a ‘Lateral Flow’ test. You should check that your test meets the required standards. Click here for further information.
2. Book and pay for a Covid-19 PCR test, which is to be taken any time before the end of Day 2 after you arrive in the UK.
3. Complete a passenger locator form.

Arrivals will need to use a private test provider for their Covid-19 test and will need to quarantine at home or in the place they are staying until they receive a negative test result. Anyone who receives a positive result must quarantine for ten full days.

If you are not fully vaccinated:

Before travelling you must:

1. Take a Covid-19 test. This can be a PCR test or a ‘Lateral Flow’ test. You should check that your test meets the required standards. Click here for further information.
2. Book and pay for two Covid-19 PCR tests, which will need to be taken on Day 2 and Day 8 after your arrival in the UK.
3. Complete a passenger locator form.

Arrivals who are not fully vaccinated are subject to more stringent rules than those with full vaccination status. Unvaccinated arrivals from the ‘Rest of the World’ will need to quarantine upon their arrival into the UK, but unlike those who have visited a ‘Red List’ country, they are able to quarantine at home or in the place they are staying. Provided your Day 2 test is negative, you must take a second Covid-19 PCR test on or after Day 8 of your quarantine. You are then permitted to leave quarantine as soon as you receive a negative result from this test, or on Day 10 after your arrival into the UK, whichever is the earlier. In Wales, you must continue to quarantine until the end of Day 10, even after receiving a negative Day 8 result.

As for the rules for arrivals from ‘Red List’ countries, there are various exemptions from all or some of these rules for medical and work-related reasons. Please get in touch if you require further advice on these exemptions.

Is ‘Test to Release’ still available?

Although not widely publicised, the ‘Test to Release’ scheme is still available to unvaccinated travellers arriving into England only. This scheme is not available to any arrivals who have been in a ‘Red List’ country. Arrivals would still need to pay for and take their Day 2 and Day 8 Covid-19 tests as above but can also pay for an additional Covid-19 test to be taken on Day 5. Upon receiving a negative result for this test, you can ‘release’ from quarantine early.

As we have seen throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, travel restrictions are subject to rapid change, so those with upcoming travel plans are advised to check current rules before departing. Please contact Tracy.Evlogidis@withersworldwide.com for further information.

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