LONDON – Today the UK government announced its move to lift the testing and self-isolation norms which were imposed in November 2021 on the grounds of increasing Omicron transmissions.
The new optimism and joy were witnessed by the airlines and airports, who welcomed this decision.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in today’s briefing that, “Omicron prevalent in the UK, the measures are having ‘limited impact on the growth in cases while imposing ‘significant costs’ on the travel industry.”
The new announcement of testing removal will be effective for all arrivals after the 7th of January 2022. The new norms will no further require passengers to self-isolate on arrival until they test negative on the RT-PCT test.
Mr. Johnson asserted that “We will be returning instead to the system we had in October 2021, where those arriving in England will need to take lateral flow test no later than the end of the day two and, if positive, a further PCT test to help us identify any new variants at the border.”
The airlines, airports, and the travel industry associations were pursuing the government to list the measures, pointing to the limited impact they were having once the Omicron variant becomes an established strain in the UK.
This new announcement was welcomed across the Pacific by IATA, where Chief Executive, Mr. Willie Walsh expressed, “This is a long overdue and welcome step by the UK back to its pre-omicron regime.”
“It is clear that extra measures had little or no impact on the spread of this new variant. But the additional measures have added significant and unnecessary costs for travelers and further damaged the travel recovery.”
“It is now time to look again at the overall scheme and remove testing entirely for vaccinated travelers.”
Chief Executive of Association of Airport Operators, UK trade body, Karen Dee expressed that “Removing all the temporary travel restrictions is a welcome recognition that they no longer serve a purpose, now Omicron is well-established in the UK.”
“The UK government’s decision follows the same approach some other European countries have taken in recent days, such as the Republic of Ireland. The devolved governments should now follow suit, enabling a continued four-nation approach to travel in the UK.”
Chief Executive Officer at Virgin Atlantic, Mr. Shai Weiss in his views stated that “Welcome progress and necessary step towards frictionless air travel, and notes travelers can now book with confidence.”
“Customer demand will be boosted in a critical booking window for the travel industry and vital testing capacity can be reallocated where it is needed the most – in hospitals, schools, and crucial national infrastructure.”
The UK aviation minister Mr. Robert Courts in his social media post assured the aviation industry by saying, “We will do a full review of international travel for 2022 before the end of January to provide certainty for passengers and the industry.”
Overall, it can be said that the UK government has offered a priceless gift for the airlines in New Year 2022, once again fuelling the aviation industry with positive hopes, assurances, and its willingness to support the industry at its most crucial phase.