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New rules for entering England.

Due to Omnicron, England today announced the following:

--The Day 2 test must now be a PCR test and not the lower cost Antigen test. You must also self-isolate until you get the results.

--If you come in contact with someone who has tested positive with the new variant you must self-isolate for 10 days regardless of your vaccination status.

--Mask usage in retail/shops and on public transit will now be required.

These changes will be reviewed in three weeks.

Posted by
2 posts

We leave the US tomorrow, November 28, and fly into London. Is there somewhere in the airport we can take the PCR test upon our arrival? Thank you!

Posted by
456 posts

Looks like this may cause us to cancel our January trip. I suppose we’ll wait 3 weeks for the review (everything on the itinerary is refundable and changeable) but as it currently stands we’d be spending half our vacation in isolation waiting on PCR test results. One of these years we’ll finally take this trip. 🙃

Posted by
6936 posts

And, as much as I love and miss London, here is why I am glad I decided to go to Rome for my early-January birthday instead.

(Of course, Covid could still conspire to keep me out of Rome, as well. We shall see.)

Posted by
61 posts

Oh my gosh, I'm going to London Dec. 9 for 8 days to see my daughter, after canceling in Sept., after canceling April 2020.. was just about to buy antigen tests. I'm pretty determined to go, so can you please help me with advice on which PCR test you recommend and how long it likely will take for results..? I can change my flight to extend trip a bit and sit in my hotel room for 2 days or so...Not ideal at all but it's been so long....thank you

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for this info. Where have you found this info? I am still seeing that for fully vaccinated travelers from the USA that an antigen test is OK. I am supposed to be leaving on Tues 11/30 and this has already been prebooked. www.gov.uk has been updated today but I do not see any update to the type of Day 2 test required. Can you point to me where you see this?

Posted by
456 posts

RandR - for my trip at the end of Dec I'm just playing it by ear for now, until I know whether we'll have to postpone yet again.

In the meantime, I have seen some rapid PCR test options listed on various sites. Most of the providers who do day 2 lateral flow tests also offer PCR. You can even get tested upon landing at Heathrow (assuming you will be), and have results next day.

I've also sent out some emails about 3hr rapid PCR tests to see if those might work. Many providers offer rapid PCR tests that give results in 3 hours or less, but those are usually for pre-departure tests (a test someone would get at the airport before departing for a destination that requires PCR tests; I do not yet know if these work for arrivals).

Posted by
2 posts

1885BD,
Please let me know what you find out. I have emailed the My Health Care Clinic, which has locations in London Heathrow, to see what my options are for same-day results. I will report back on what I learn.

Posted by
4 posts

Frank, thank you for adding this timely info to the Forum and for adding the links. I've been scouring all the 'right' websites for any updates prior to my departure and they of course have not been updated with this info yet. I'm heartbroken but it looks like I am going to have to cancel my trip on Tues. Am vaxxd, boosterd, was planning on masking everywhere anyway but the PCR and isolation for a 4 day trip is just not doable. Totally understandable but a bummer.

Posted by
10289 posts

Everyone, please realize the announcement of the new rules were announced today, Saturday, at 5 PM London time. It will probably take a day or two for every website to catch up.

Posted by
20 posts

Brian, I sure hope that we can speed up the results. I just got off the phone with the travel agency and we are screwed in terms of trying to change our flight without paying over $1000 per person... If when we land we can get tested, and it's a quicker test, that may be our saving grace... I have already booked tours that are non-refundable, so to cancel the entire trip will be very costly... :-(

Posted by
61 posts

so grateful for this info and advice... boy a fast turn-around would be fantastic... maybe Heathrow is smart option to get it done asap and hunker down at hotel, hoping for 24-hour result... could be dreaming I guess, but we can dream. I'll keep looking. I've loved Claudia's trip notes and was so getting ready to go myself... looks like her timing was perfect... ps assuming the US will follow suit and require PCR to fly home, can you buy those at Boots? or would one sent to where I'm staying make more sense?
again, grateful

Posted by
133 posts

I leave Thursday and booked my Day 2 Lateral Flow test early this morning (roughly 2:30pm London time). Tonight I received an email from the testing place where I booked offering me the option to cancel and rebook for the PCR at another time.

EDITED to add: Booked the Day 2 PCR for three hours following my landing time at Waterloo Station. Sent the request to cancel the lateral flow appointment as instructed. Had planned to do that mid-day Saturday so figured moving it earlier was a better use of time. I always keep my landing and first full day relatively loose so will land at 7:55, test at 11AM, go and hope for early check in and wait for results.

Thank you, Frank II, for this thread. Hopefully others will be able to make the adjustments and carry on. I'm genuinely sorry for anyone who may miss the opportunity with this change.

Posted by
456 posts

Points and Miles - can I ask what provider you’re using for the 3 hour PCR?

Posted by
55 posts

So, how do we know any of these Covid tests can detect the variants? Are today's tests useful or relevant for mutating forms of this virus?
If any of you are biotech experts, any enlightening on this topic is appreciated.

Posted by
133 posts

1885BD, I am not scheduled for a three hour result. I will take my test three hours after arriving in the UK. Rapid result for me was not available for the PCR through Randox, the clinic I’m booked with.

Posted by
456 posts

Mo - I think the whole point of the PCR is it enables sequencing. The U.K.’s approach has more been about sequencing than keeping the virus out in the first place, since community transmission is so widespread. Even before todays change, a positive antigen test would mean you had to then get a PCR they could sequence. Now they’re just making the sequencing process even quicker.

Posted by
5042 posts

U.K. PCR tests usually take between 24 and 72 hours. No doubt the pharmaceutical industry wasn’t warned in advance of the changes, so I would hope for the best and assume the worst.

Max wearing is lax in England and although it will be compulsory to wear masks indoors and on public transport from Tuesday (why not today?) I fear that there will be much non-compliance. If travelling to the U.K., have a plan B in case you are unfortunate enough to catch Covid.

Posted by
3463 posts

Guess I’ll pay the price to get the 3 hour PCR test at the airport upon arrival. It’s more expensive but would beat sitting in a hotel room for a day or two.

Edited: You are correct Frank. Will need to wait a few days until everything gets updated and see if it shows up as an option in the day 2 list.

Posted by
10289 posts

I believe that is a fit to fly test. Make sure you can use that as a day 2 test.

Posted by
98 posts

Upon arrival at Heathrow, our plan is to do the PCR test with results within 3 hours. Does anyone know if this is acceptable as of now? We arrive in a few weeks. Lots of last minute changes!

Posted by
25 posts

Prenetics notified me this morning that the home kit lateral flow not accepted and provided an easy way to update to newly required PCR-results in 24 hours of receiving...BUT has to be mailed; so will likely cancel and try to test at Luton via Collinson upon arrival and get a faster result. On a tripadvisor forum there are recommendations to wait until Monday after ruling finalized. I'm a total rules follower here so will self-isolate after arrival/testing but does what does this entail? Can we go to grocery and have food in our airbnb until negative result? Can we walk outside but avoid public transport and interior spaces? If we are on plane/train to get to our airbnb, is there tracking to make sure we arrive and stay in our flat (and why is this allowed, if it is or do we have to stay in airport?). I'm thinking maybe we just cancel the London portion and stay in Ireland for our 10 days instead.

Posted by
10289 posts

Self-isolation is just that...You isolate. You are allowed to travel to where you are staying and are supposed to not leave until you get your results.

You are supposed to have food delivered. In the past, some people got phone calls from the government checking to see if they were isolating.

Of course, with the PCR test you have to leave where you are isolating to mail the test in. (Make sure it is a mailbox that accepts priority mail.)

Posted by
10289 posts

travelisfun..the three hour test is a fit to fly test and may not be valid for a Day 2 test.

Posted by
456 posts

All -

I have reached out to both Collinson and ExpressTest, as each has locations at Heathrow (and other places) that offer the 3hr PCR. Each has confirmed the 3hr is a fit-to-fly that would not be accepted for Day 2 arrivals. However, they each said they’re working on getting a rapid PCR solution and will update their websites accordingly once that is done. So don’t attempt to use a fit to fly test for an arrival, but do keep an eye out for options on same day PCRs soon (🤞🤞🤞)

Posted by
1918 posts

Pre-book your day 2 PCR test, and have it sent to the address where you're staying.

You arrive in the UK, go straight to your accommodation, do the test, leave your accommodation to post the test. Return to your accommodation and have a lazy day recovering from jet lag and watching TV.

The next day you should have your results and (if negative) you're free to go.

It’s not the end of the world.

Posted by
25 posts

We will be in Ireland for 5 days prior; so may just stay in Ireland if we can still travel there. Lots of switching around that would go away if we eliminate the London portion of our trip.

Posted by
40 posts

Prior to these updated Day 2 testing requirements, did restaurants/stores/venues/hotels and other businesses ask for proof of a Day 2 test result? Will that change now with the self-isolation requirement? Are businesses required to check for vaccination status and Day 2 results of their customers?

What if you were flying into London, staying the night near the airport, then flying out the next morning to Germany. How would you navigate the new self-isolation requirement? Would you be allowed to return to the airport then next morning and depart without any issues?

Posted by
4 posts

I'm glad others have been able to make some modifications to their tests and carry on with travel hoping for the best. I wish you all a wonderful trip. I decided yesterday, after watching the press conference and reading up, to cancel my 5-day London city stay trip that was scheduled to start on Tuesday (arr Weds Dec 1). I have 2 weeks (10 days) of vacation per year and setting aside a full day (or possibly longer) of a 5-day trip where I would need to quarantine in $200+/night accommodations was just not worth it for me. I haven't taken a vacation since 2019!!! If I was going to be there for longer then it would have been doable. Thankfully Delta gave me a full refund of my SkyMiles used and taxes paid for the flight (thank you, Delta!) and I received a full refund for the hotel. I was able to receive a voucher (no refund) for the Day 2 antigen test I had pre-booked at Paddington on my arrival day but the antigen test I purchased for my US return is a wash, as is my Heathrow Express tickets I booked due to the TFL strikes that started Friday and are scheduled to go into this coming weekend. Travel is full of the unexpected and you have to be flexible and accommodating. Sometimes that means staying put, unfortunately. Happy and safe travels to all of you out there and best of luck!

Posted by
10289 posts

JJT2005...no one is going to ask you about your day 2 test. As of now, you only need proof of vaccination to enter the country.

If you are leaving the day after your arrival, you go to the airport and leave. While you have to book and pay for a day 2 test, you don't have to take it

Posted by
10289 posts

Christi...travel from Ireland to the UK is exempt from the new rules.

Posted by
25 posts

Frank II-even if from US fully vaccinated but only 5 days in Ireland? I keep seeing 10 days; and I'm not opposed to taking the test but really don't want to self-isolate. That would be great news. Our other option is possibly driving to Belfast, which we were considering anyway to see Titanic as a day trip from Dublin and taking a test there but staying in Ireland prior to flying to London. My head is spinning; here's our itinerary
2-Dec leave US
3-Dec arrive Dublin, rental car
4-Dec Dublin
5-Dec Dublin-day trip to Belfast, take PCR test?
6-Dec Wexford
7-Dec Cork
8-Dec fly to London (Luton) from Cork.
9-Dec London
10-Dec London
11-Dec London, take PCR for return home
12-Dec London, receive test results by 10pm
13-Dec Fly to US from Heathrow

Posted by
20 posts

Regarding the Day 2 test, once we arrive can we just do it at the airport to "speed things up", versus going to the hotel and doing it? I seriously don't want to waste a minute with this testing... Fingers crossed that they come up with a rapid solution.

Has anyone compared pricing between doing it at the airport right away before we head to the hotel versus having it sent to the hotel??

Thanks!

Posted by
10289 posts

Christi...you're right. It's 10 days. Also, you do not need to take a PCR test to return to the U.S.A. As of now, an antigen test will suffice.

Here's my experience with the PCR day 2 test:

Day 0: arrival date, test mailed out overnight.

Day 1: Received test, took it, mailed it back overnight in prepaid mailer supplied by lab.

Day 2: 10 PM--received results via email.

I don't know what the turn aroubd time is for the Heathrow testing companies.

Tomorrow, Monday, there is supposed to be more information on the new rules. Be patient.

Posted by
76 posts

What if you were flying into London, staying the night near the airport, then flying out the next morning to Germany. How would you navigate the new self-isolation requirement? Would you be allowed to return to the airport then next morning and depart without any issues?

We have a trip planned to arrive Eurostar & leave Heathrow the next morning. I found this link:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-air-travel-guidance-for-passengers#transiting-through-england

This has not been updated so I'll be checking back frequently. There is also directions on filling out the PLF. with an exemption for transting passengers. May all change tomorrow

Landside transit
Landside transit is when you pass through UK border control on arrival, but you leave the UK shortly after (usually within 24 hours). You may leave from the same airport, railway station or port where you arrived, or from a different one, so long as you travel directly to that port of departure.

If you transit landside, you do not need to take a COVID-19 test before you travel to England if you:

qualify as fully vaccinated for travel to England
have not been in a red list country or territory in the 10 days before you arrive in England
If you do not qualify as fully vaccinated or you have been in a red list country, you need to take a COVID-19 test in the 3 days before you travel to England.

Posted by
10289 posts

what happens if I make the PCR Test and still leave the hotel?

The government does spot checks. If they find you in violation, you could be fined. Fines start at 1,000 pounds.

Posted by
5042 posts

No, unfortunately you won’t be able to come to the U.K. for a 2 day visit next week unless you are happy not leaving your accommodation for the duration!

As we keep on saying, you need a PCR test with the results back in 24-48 hours. They can’t do genome sequencing with the rapid tests and the health service want to know what’s coming into the country.

Please don’t break the law and leave your accommodation. They do checks. Locals would be fined. You? I don’t know, but possibly put in a quarantine hotel for 10 days at your expense - £2,250 each. If found to be positive and you have been out spreading it? Quarantine hotel plus fine plus?? I would imagine you wouldn’t be welcome back.

Posted by
133 posts

Yasusanne, I too have now decided to cancel my trip. I was scheduled to leave the US on Thursday and arrive Friday morning.

Originally, I was unfazed by the adjustments needed to carry on. Then I looked at my calendar for the days following my return and the idea of asking my family to make adjustments to their own busy schedules to accommodate me the time to “clear” after travel felt so selfish. Not to mention that those who live in the UK are trying to make their own adjustments and may be wary of extra folks running around.

I am grateful for this forum and all the different voices of those who engage.

No, unfortunately you won’t be able to come to the U.K. for a 2 day visit next week unless you are happy not leaving your accommodation for the duration!

Well the day 2 test doesn’t have to be made on day 2 you know ;) it can also be made at day 0 ;) and if I would fly to london - take a rapid PCR test on the airport and wait at the hotel for the results it’s not so bad - I mean it’s still bad but I wouldn’t wait 2 days in the hotel room ;)

Posted by
25 posts

Woke up hoping for some clarity on our travel decisions but am still muddled. We had tentatively planned to drive to Belfast for the Titanic Experience while staying in Dublin and were iffy on this plan as concerned about testing requirements for a day trip from the outset. If we got PCR test in Belfast, returned to Ireland for 3 nights (so in CTA), to self-isolate before results, would we need to get tested/self-isolate again upon arrival in London? I really want to be compliant. Our London Airbnb has provided DAM Health and Eurofins as additional testing sites nearby with cheaper tests and faster results if that info helps anyone else.

Posted by
1918 posts

Chrisiti, first you need to follow Ireland’s entry requirements to enter Dublin

https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/travel_and_recreation/travel_to_ireland/travel_to_ireland_during_covid.html#l4b502

There’s an open border for Northern Ireland so you can enter. The advice is you should take a rapid lateral flow device test (LFD) before you begin your journey. The emphasis is should. You do not need a PCR test. There’s no point in taking a PCR test in Belfast.

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-travelling-within-common-travel-area

If you want to fly to London you can only avoid a PCR test and isolating if you have not been outside the CTA (Ireland, N Ireland, England) in the previous 10 days. Based on your itinerary posted earlier this will not apply.

It’s going to be simpler to stick with the island of Ireland and leave England for another time.

Posted by
10289 posts

Currently, the Rapid PCR test cannot be used as a day 2 test. You might be able to get the results the next day.

Posted by
4452 posts

Max wearing is lax in England and although it will be compulsory to wear masks indoors and on public transport from Tuesday (why not today?)

Presumably because businesses need a bit of notice to adapt. Currently a large number of places, particularly the large supermarkets and other chains have signs in the store stating that mask wearing is now a personal choice along with tannoy announcements stating something similar. These businesses need to replace these signs and announcements and expecting them to do so on a Saturday with no prior warning is a bit much.

Posted by
4 posts

Points and Miles
I'm sorry to hear that you decided to cancel as well. Starting out my post-TG workweek w a cancelled vacation tomorrow isn't the best Monday feeling but I'm confident I made the best decision for myself given the time constraints and other factors. I look forward to returning to London, ideally next Xmas season, and I also appreciate everyone's input and assistance on this. Hope you are able to reschedule at a better time.

Posted by
263 posts

We are not leaving on our planned trip until March (so I realize this is all subject to change many times by then), but we are scheduled to fly into Heathrow early on a Saturday and our first place to stay is in York (we are taking the train up the day of our arrival and not staying in London initially). Would this self-isolating requirement mean we can't take the train to York from London as planned and ride out the self-isolation there? Is there any way to know this at this point?

Posted by
61 posts

I'm still planning to go, leaving next Tuesday -- 2 days earlier now to accommodate isolation time, (I hope..) plan to test at Heathrow terminal 2. then go straight to hotel and wait it out. Can anyone give me any advice re testing in the terminal, and figuring out timing for deplaning, customs, baggage and test as I need to book a test time.. I get that customs is wild card re timing but am thinking 2 hours from plane touchdown to test time, hoping that's generous... ?
And so far fit-to-fly back to US is antigen I believe, but had better watch that...
Because I'm traveling alone, and retired, I'm willing to risk the added hoops. Not to mention I'm desperate to see my daughter...
But I'm aware things could change in the next week and derail me...

Posted by
3463 posts

@RandR - there’s an Expresstest testing center at terminal 2. You can book an appointment online and the site says where the testing location is. I would allow at least 2 hours after arrival to get baggage and clear immigration when scheduling your testing appointment, possibly 3 hours. I haven’t been to the UK since covid, so my estimate is a guess.

Posted by
25 posts

RandR-I so get your desperation! My son and I are traveling and my daughter has been abroad for 2.5 years-so only have seen her twice in all that time and she is meeting us in London. She is taking care of her testing issues since coming from a different country and then back with us for the holidays but may end up just being able to transit through instead of enjoying London with us. I'll take it!

My son and I are going to chance the timing/testing and hoping for more rapid test results; cancelled a first night reservation and next day was open to begin with.

Posted by
61 posts

thanks Jaimeelsabio... I've been looking at that one today and had figured 3 hours felt reasonable... so glad to know I'm on same track ... also I'm wondering if you miss your scheduled test time if you are out of luck and have to find another test, pay again etc or if they'd squeeze you in. I'm hopeful for this one, they claim to have 24 hour turnaround... that would be so fantastic... Our daughter now living in London and working as a teacher so I need to figure out regular travel there if the situation allows.. I'll let you know how it goes...

Posted by
98 posts

Good luck, RandR. I hope it all is easy for you. Please update here if you get a chance.

Posted by
38 posts

We arrive in London on Dec 11, fortunately for three weeks, so can afford to lose a couple of days isolating while we get the results. So far the fastest test we've found is Expresstest at Heathrow T2, which says results are available by 10pm the day after the test. I haven't booked yet in the hope someone will offer faster results...

Posted by
25 posts

Ireland just added a pre-arrival negative test required after 00:01 Dec 3. We leave on 2-Dec, Thursday; so are getting testing tomorrow even though unsure if needed as we leave prior to this deadline but arrive after it. I'm posting on Ireland forum as well.

Posted by
61 posts

Well I've booked day 2 test at Heathrow after arrival next week... I've been putting it off, fearing changes will make my test obsolete... but made the move today and hoping it all works... Sounds like US looking at seeking testing in day before heading home, hope it's Antigen.
Christi, I hope you have fabulous visit with your girl! and Travelisfun, thanks for well wishes... I'm going day by day, hoping things hold and trying to feel confident with my booster on board. Also waiting to navigate what the US changes, test-wise, while keeping in mind the need for safety.. All goes well, I'll try to send updates for the hoop-jumping etc...

Posted by
83 posts

Has anybody done the PCR test at Heathrow T2? If so, how long did it take to get the results? Also, now we need a test 24 hours before leaving (and I am leaving Boxing Day which means I need to take the test Christmas Day!) is it the PCR or can I take lateral flow at home as I am sure most places will be closed.
RandR I am right behind you as I leave Thursday :)

TIA

Posted by
12 posts

We are pretty sure we're postponing our December holiday trip to June. There are too many variables right now. :(