Britain will require all inbound travellers to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test, and arrivals from Nigeria will have to quarantine in hotels to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, health minister Sajid Javid said on Saturday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that travel restrictions are necessary to slow the spread of Omicron while scientists race to understand more about the coronavirus variant, its transmissibility and implications for vaccine effectiveness.
“We’ve kept the data under review over the last week or so since we learned about Omicron, and we’re seeing increasing number of cases linked to travel,” Javid said in a broadcast clip.
“We’ve always said we will act swiftly if we need to, if the changing data requires that, and that’s why we decided to bring in this change on pre-departure tests.”
The pre-departure testing requirement will mean all inbound travellers must take a test a maximum of 48 hours before departure time, and will come in from 0400 GMT on Tuesday.
Nigeria will be added to Britain’s travel “red list” at 0400 GMT on Monday.
Javid said that the number of cases of Omicron in Britain had risen to around 160, and that Nigeria was second only to South Africa in terms of Omicron cases linked to travel.
South Africa and nine other Southern African countries were added to the red list last weekend, meaning that entry is only allowed to UK citizens or residents who then must quarantine in a hotel.