Stansted Airport welcomes new international travel testing rules

Passengers at London Stansted Airport wearing masks during the Covid-19 pandemic

Temporary omicron variant testing measures will be scrapped from Friday, January 7 (File photo) - Credit: Will Durrant

Stansted Airport is planning for the spring and summer holiday season with "confidence" after changes to Covid-19 testing rules for those returning to the UK.

Steve Griffiths, the airport's managing director, has welcomed the change in the Covid-19 testing rules which could reduce costs for passengers arriving into the UK.

From 4am on Friday (January 7), fully vaccinated travellers arriving into the UK will not need to self-isolate while awaiting PCR test results.

They will also no longer need to take a pre-departure test.

From 4am on Sunday, fully vaccinated passengers will only need to pay for a lateral flow - rather than PCR - test on arrival.

The same rules apply to under 18s.

A lateral flow test

Passengers will need to pay for a lateral flow test, rather than a PCR test, if they arrive in the UK after 4am on Sunday - Credit: PA

Mr Griffiths said: "The removal of the temporary measures is important recognition that travel restrictions should not remain in place if they no longer help prevent the spread of the virus.

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"By removing barriers to travel in what is a critical period for forward-booking, passengers looking to travel through London Stansted can now plan ahead with confidence."

Pre-departure testing was introduced temporarily due to the emergence of the omicron variant of Covid-19 abroad.

Omicron has become the most dominant Covid-19 strain since it was first detected in Essex and Nottingham in November 2021.

The CEO Manchester Airports Group, which owns London Stansted, criticised the temporary restrictions last month.

Charlie Cornish said at the time: "The reintroduction of costly and inconvenient travel testing requirements has created further uncertainty and delayed our recovery."

Between April and September 2021, MAG's passenger numbers were down 82% on the same period pre-pandemic.

Grant Shapps MP, transport secretary, said: "We're removing the temporary extra testing measures we introduced last year at the border to slow cases of Omicron coming to the UK.

"Now Omicron is the dominant variant and is widespread in the UK, these measures are no longer proportionate.

"By reducing testing requirements for fully vaxxed passengers to just a lateral flow post-arrival, we're supporting the safe reopening of international travel."

A full travel restrictions review is expected by the end of January.

Restrictions on UK tourists remain in some countries including France, where entry is only allowed for essential reasons.