LONDON (AP) – The UK government on Saturday tightened travel restrictions amid concerns over the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant, saying all travelers arriving in England will need to take a COVID-19 test before boarding their flight.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the new rules would apply from 4 a.m. London time on Tuesday.
“In light of the most recent data, we are taking further steps to slow the incursion of the omicron variant,” he said in a tweet.
Javid has also added Nigeria to the “red list” for travel to the UK, which means that arrivals from that country will be banned except for UK and Irish residents, and such travelers must isolate themselves in designated quarantine facilities. He said there was a “significant number” of omicron cases linked to travel with Nigeria, with 27 cases recorded in England.
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said the new measures would be a “major deterrent” to travel, just as airports and the travel industry were hoping for a small increase during the holiday season.
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“It is a devastating blow for aviation and tourism,” she said.
Authorities recorded another 42,848 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the UK on Saturday, with 127 additional deaths. With more than 145,000 deaths from COVID-19 during the pandemic, Britain has the second highest number of virus deaths in Europe after Russia.
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