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Travellers arriving in UK from Friday still told to get Covid tests, despite rule change

Exclusive: ‘You must book a coronavirus (Covid19) test package for when you arrive in the UK,’ reads form, even though requirement is axed from 11 February

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 09 February 2022 12:58 GMT
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Arriving soon: British Airways aircraft at Heathrow Terminal 5
Arriving soon: British Airways aircraft at Heathrow Terminal 5 (Simon Calder)

Fully vaccinated travellers entering the UK after 4am on Friday 11 February need no longer book a post-arrival test.

But arrivals must still complete the passenger locator form – a complex online document that, at one point, wrongly insists: “You must book a coronavirus (Covid-19) test package for when you arrive in the UK.”

Further down the page, travellers are able to tick a box that reads: “No, I meet vaccine eligibility criteria and arrive after 11 February 2022 04:00.”

And an application made by The Independent for arrival after the Friday rule change shows that it is possible for fully vaccinated passengers to complete the form without booking a test.

Green to go: The latest incarnation of the passenger locator form (HM Government)

The passenger locator form has been slightly simplified for fully vaccinated arrivals, with no request for a test booking reference required

But other elements remain incoherent.

The form includes the line: “If you are travelling from a non-red list country, island or territory island …” even though there are currently no red list nations requiring hotel quarantine.

The senior Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw – a member of the Transport Select Committee – said: “Now that tests before and after arrival are no longer required for fully vaccinated travellers, the passenger locator form is pointless.

“The fact that it still contains misleading information makes this worse. It has always been far more complicated and confusing than the European equivalent – which most EU countries no longer require.

“Ministers promised us when we last pressed them on this that the U.K. form would at least be simplified. That doesn’t seem to have happened.”

The government has said it will simplify the passenger locator form still further and The Independent understands changes will be made from 16 February.

Officials insist that the form remains an essential element of the UK border regime to help reduce the risk of new variants being transmitted, and to allow health departments to contact people who need to take a “day two” test.

On 24 January the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said the post-arrival test for fully vaccinated travellers had “outlived its usefulnesss”.

Some travel industry figures have criticised the continued need to take a test of no apparent value for a further 18 days.

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