Travel to the UK during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go


Editor’s Note — Coronavirus cases are in flux across the globe. Health officials caution that staying home is the best way to stem transmission until you’re fully vaccinated. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on April 14.

(CNN) — If you’re planning to travel to the UK, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

The United Kingdom has seen one of the highest number of deaths from Covid-19 in the world, resulting in multiple lockdowns. Most recently, the Omicron coronavirus variant spread across the UK.

In England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, most legal coronavirus restrictions have been lifted, although regulations continue to vary slightly across the four nations. See more details below.

The UK has removed all remaining Covid-19-related restrictions on international travel. See more information below.

What’s on offer

In London, the UK has one of the world’s greatest cities. But beyond the architectural marvels and nightlife of the capital, there is much to explore — the rugged peaks of the Scottish Highlands, distant Welsh lakes and the wide sweep of Cornish beaches, for starters, plus historic towns and cities such as Bath, Oxford and Harrogate.

Who can go

Anyone can enter the UK without any additional testing or quarantine requirements, regardless of vaccination status.

What are the restrictions?

UK arrivals no longer need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before arriving in the UK.

Red list countries

The UK divides destinations into “red” and “green” destinations. There are no longer any countries on the “red” list.

Previously, certain arrivals from red list countries were required to quarantine in designated hotels, but the infrastructure for hotel quarantine was “fully stood down” at the end of March 2022.

The government has said it will “maintain a range of contingency measures in reserve” which could be activated if concerning coronavirus variants emerge.
The UK government had previously said if red list restrictions needed to be reintroduced, home isolation would likely be the preferred option.

Green list countries

Any destination not on the red list is considered green — so currently all destinations are green, but some green destinations don’t currently permit nonessential travel from the UK.

Anyone — regardless of vaccination status — from green list countries can enter the UK without any additional testing or quarantine requirements.

For full UK government guidance on traveling to the UK, see here.

Other developments:

International and domestic cruising has recommenced in the UK — see government guidance here and check the specific cruise line for regulations.

The legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid-19 has been removed in England and Wales. Covid-positive individuals are still legally required to self-isolate in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What’s the Covid situation?

The UK has suffered considerably during Covid-19. Most recently, the Omicron coronavirus variant spread rapidly across the UK.

Cases have since fallen from the Omicron peak, but remain pretty high — and in recent weeks have risen again.

There have been over 21.8 million Covid cases and more than 171,600 deaths in the UK as of April 14. Over 74.1% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

In March 2020, there was a UK-wide lockdown that lasted until the summer. Since then, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland developed their own region-specific measures — see below for detail.

What can visitors expect?

There are no legal Covid restrictions in England.

London’s Heathrow Airport has removed its face covering mandate. In a press release, the airport said “Heathrow strongly encourages those at the airport to continue wearing a face covering — particularly when coming into close contact with others — although this will no longer be a firm requirement.”

Venues operating with large numbers — like theaters, concert venues and nightclubs — no longer require proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test.

Individual venues could still decide they wish to enforce proof of vaccination or negative test — so it’s worth checking the website of the specific venue you’re visiting.

International travelers should be able to show a recent Covid test or a UK-accepted proof of vaccination to enter these venues. It’s worth checking with the venue before arrival.

For England-based Covid guidance, see here.
Face masks are no longer a legal requirement in Wales, aside from in health and care settings, although they continue to be “strongly recommended” by the Welsh government. See full Welsh face mask guidance here.

Venues like theaters, concert venues and nightclubs no longer require proof of vaccination or proof of a negative PCR test or negative rapid lateral flow test.

Individual venues may decide they wish to enforce proof of vaccination — so it’s worth checking the website of the specific venue you’re visiting.

International travelers should be able to show a recent Covid test or a UK-accepted proof of vaccination to enter these venues. It’s worth checking with the venue before arrival.

Unlike in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, face coverings remain legally mandatory in indoor public places and public transport in Scotland. The legal requirement to wear face masks will be removed on April 18, but masks will continue to be “strongly recommended.” See face mask rules for Scotland here.

Scottish venues like theaters, concert venues and nightclubs no longer require proof of vaccination or proof of a negative PCR test or negative rapid lateral flow test.

Individual venues may decide they wish to enforce proof of vaccination — so it’s worth checking the website of the specific venue you’re visiting.

People in Scotland must show they’ve had a booster jab to be considered fully vaccinated if their last vaccine dose was more than four months ago.

International travelers should be able to show a recent Covid test or a UK-accepted proof of vaccination to enter these venues. It’s worth checking with the venue before arrival.

For Scotland’s current Covid rules, see here.
Wearing a face covering is no longer a legal requirement in Northern Ireland, but face masks continue to be “strongly recommended in indoor areas where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet” — such as public transport.

Venues like theaters, concert venues and nightclubs no longer require proof of vaccination or proof of a negative PCR test or negative rapid lateral flow test.

Individual venues may decide they wish to enforce proof of vaccination — so it’s worth checking the website of the specific venue you’re visiting.

International travelers should be able to show a recent Covid test or a UK-accepted proof of vaccination to enter these venues. It’s worth checking with the venue before arrival.

For exact guidelines, see here.

Useful links

Our recent coverage

CNN’s Julia Buckley and Francesca Street contributed to this report

Quoted from Various Sources

Published for: The Bloggers Briefing