FROM today (Friday 8th January), 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.
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.”
Commenting on this easing of travel requirements, Murray Burnett, managing director of Aberdeen-based Munro’s Travel, said:
“We welcome the news that the Scottish Government has now aligned with England and Wales and will remove pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated international travellers arriving into Scotland. It is also positive that the costly day two PCR testing upon arrival into Scotland is being replaced with the cheaper lateral flow test.
“Going forward, it is critical that the UK and devolved governments align and develop a robust plan for dealing with future variants and keeping our borders open. Travellers need the confidence of a structured future for international travel where they can be certain that the regulations won’t change overnight, and this should be done on a four nations’ basis. This can only be good for the Scottish and wider UK economy.”
Munro’s Travel is one of the largest independent travel agents in the UK, specialising in managed essential travel and with a client base of over 300 energy sector organisations.