Scotland Covid: What are the UK Covid travel rules amid Omicron concerns?

News rules for international travel have been introduced in the UK amid concerns surrounding the new Omicron Covid variant. 

Countries have been added to the red list in an attempt to curb spread of the new variant, which has the potential to be more transmissible, according to early data. 

The UK has taken a four nations approach to international travel throughout the pandemic, with leaders in Scotland and Wales urging Boris Johnson to adopt tougher travel restrictions to deal with Omicron. 

Penning a joint letter to the prime minister, the first ministers of Scotland and Wales proposed “a tougher four-nations approach to travel restrictions, that “would see people arriving in the UK from overseas asked to self-isolate for eight days”, taking a PCR test on day two and day eight of their arrival. 

However, on Tuesday morning, Number 10 rejected this request, stating their current rules were “proportionate” and that further restrictions would have a “detrimental effect on the travel industry.”

With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about the current rules on international travel to the UK… 

Which countries are on the red list? 

The following countries are currently on the red list: 

  • Angola
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Zambia 
  • South Africa
  • Botswana
  • Eswatini
  • Lesotho
  • Namibia
  • Zimbabwe

People travelling from red listed countries must take a PCR test prior to travel to the UK, isolate in a quarantine hotel when they arrive and take PCR tests on day 2 and day 8 of arrival. 

This applies to anyone travelling from red listed zones, whether vaccinated or not. 

What are the travel rules from non-red listed countries for those who are fully vaccinated? 

From 4am on Tuesday November 30, people who are fully vaccinated travelling to the UK from non-red listed countries will be required to: 

  • self-isolate
  • take a PCR test before the end of day 2 after you arrive (lateral flow tests will not be accepted)
  • can leave self-isolation if your PCR test result is negative

Lateral flow tests will no longer be accepted. 

What are the travel rules for people who are not fully vaccinated? 

If you are not fully vaccinated and travelling to the UK from a non red listed country, you must: 

  • take a COVID-19 test – to be taken in the 3 days before you travel to England
  • book and pay for day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 PCR tests – to be taken after arrival in England
  • quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 full days
  • take your COVID-19 PCR tests – you must book these tests before you travel


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