The government has announced that travelers to the UK will be required to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test.
The new measure, to limit the spread of the Omicron variant, applies to everyone traveling to the UK or returning from vacation, regardless of vaccination status.
This will come into effect from 4 am on Tuesday, December 7.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the move was due to the “increasing number of travel-related cases”.
Nigeria is also being added to the travel red list – joining several southern African countries that were added late last month after the Omicron variant was first detected.
The change comes as of 4am on Monday, Mr Javid said, adding that Nigeria is “second only to South Africa for cases linked to Omicron”.
Mr Javid acknowledged that these measures are “extremely unfortunate” for those who already had travel plans, but insisted they would be “temporary”.
“We want to remove them as soon as possible,” he said.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: “As scientists work to decipher the new Omicron variant, we need to take extra precautions until the picture is clear.
“We appreciate that this travel will be difficult for the sector as we prioritize public health and protect the progress of our world-leading wax and booster program.”
Meanwhile, Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said: “Finally the health secretary accepted Labor’s call for pre-departure tests, but why until 48 hours before the flight?”
He also called for further action, including increasing the number of booster jabs to 500,000 per day.
The introduction of pre-departure COVID tests for passengers entering England has been described by the chief executive of the Airport Operators Association as a “disastrous blow” to travel.
Karen D said the policy would act as a “major deterrent” for travel, starting December 7.
“This is a devastating blow to aviation and tourism,” she said.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of Airlines UK said the government’s rapid change in entry requirements made it “impossible” for the travel industry to plan ahead.
It comes as the UK recorded 127 deaths within 28 days of testing positive on Saturday.
According to official figures, 42,848 more cases were also reported.