News

Easing of restrictions on international travellers

Published: 06 Jan 2022 16:06

Removal of pre-departure test requirement.

From Friday people travelling to Scotland from abroad who are fully vaccinated or under the age of 18 will no longer need to take pre-departure Covid tests, and will also no longer be required to self-isolate on arrival until they've received a negative result.

Travellers in this group will still need to take a test on or before day 2 after arriving in the UK - which can be a lateral flow device rather than a PCR test from Sunday.

Anyone who tests positive on their lateral flow test will need to isolate and take a free confirmatory PCR test.

The new measures apply across the UK after agreement between the UK Government and the three devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Pre-departure Covid tests, the requirement to self-isolate and mandatory PCR tests were re-introduced in December to help stem the spread of the Omicron variant, but are now seen as less necessary because Omicron is now the dominant strain in the UK.

In addition, Ministers have agreed to approve vaccine certificates for a further 16 countries and territories from 0400 on 10 January to allow quarantine-free travel to Scotland. The red list of highest risk countries will remain unchanged with no countries currently on the list.

All four nations are also discussing what the requirements should be for border travel in the future.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson said:

“Given the rapid spread of Omicron last year it was essential that we took immediate steps to protect public health in Scotland, particularly with regards to international travel.

“We still have significant concerns over Omicron, but we recognise that, now it is the most dominant strain in Scotland and across the UK, it is sensible to review the measures currently in place.

“We also fully understand the impact of the restrictions on staff and businesses in the travel and aviation sectors and these changes demonstrate our commitment not to keep measures in place any longer than necessary.

“However, people still need to be extremely careful when travelling and to remember that both our and other countries' COVID-19 requirements can change at short notice as things can evolve very quickly.

“People should therefore ensure they have travel insurance and carefully check their booking terms and conditions, as well as ensuring compliance with the latest regulations for the country being visited.”

Background

 Changes on PDTs and isolation will come into force at 0400 on Friday 7 January 2022.

LFDs with photo confirmation will be accepted as post-arrival tests from 0400 Sunday 9 January, people will be able to buy an eligible test from the list on gov.uk from Friday 7 January.  Anyone who tests positive will need to isolate and take a free follow-up PCR test for genomic sequencing.

The definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ is set out in Scottish Government guidance under the ‘what fully vaccinated means’ section. The guidance also includes information on planning foreign travel and information on testing for people entering Scotland.

The four nations of the UK have also agreed to approve vaccine certificates for a further 16 countries and territories from 0400 on 10 January to allow quarantine-free travel to Scotland. These are Bhutan, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Fiji, Iraq and Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Palau, Paraguay, Solomon Islands, The Gambia, Uzbekistan, as well as North Cyprus and Papua New Guinea.

Further information on other countries’ requirements is available in UK Government guidance.