The United Kingdom will tighten entry restrictions for international travelers including Americans.
Starting Tuesday, all travelers 12 years old and older will need to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test before boarding a flight for the U.K., regardless of vaccination status.
“We knew this winter would be challenging but the arrival of a new variant means we must further strengthen our defences,” U.K. Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said in a Saturday statement.
The country will accept lateral flow device and PCR tests taken no more than 48 hours before departure. The temporary measures will be reviewed December 20.
As of now, all unvaccinated U.S. travellers must take a test three days prior to entering England, Wales Scotland, Northern Ireland, or Scotland. These travelers must also self-isolate for 10 days and take additional PCR tests on days two and eight of their trip.
Travelers who have been fully vaccinated in the U.S. do not need to undergo a pre-departure screening under current regulations. They can self-isolate and produce negative PCR tests within the first 2 days.
The updated testing requirements will apply to all travelers flying in from countries not on the U.K.’s red list, which includes Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and – starting Monday – Nigeria.
Travelers who have recently been in red-list countries can enter England only if they are U.K. or Irish citizens or residents and must isolate in a managed quarantine facility upon arrival.
England discovered its first case of the omicron variant last week and has identified more than 100 cases since.
A statement from the U.K. government said a majority of omicron cases have “clear links” to overseas travel from South Africa and Nigeria, with 21 of the country’s omicron cases originating from Nigeria.
Follow Bailey Schulz (USA TODAY reporter) on Twitter @bailey_schulz.