In January 2022, the UK scrapped pre-departure COVID tests for all fully vaccinated travellers, followed shortly after by the on-arrival testing requirement. This means that travel to the UK is now completely free of testing for fully vaccinated individuals.
From 18 March 2022, this will be extended to unvaccinated individuals as well, and the Passenger Locator Form requirement will be eliminated.
All remaining Covid travel measures, including the Passenger Locator Form and tests for all arrivals, will be stood down for travel to the UK from 4am on 18 March.
These changes are possible due to our vaccine rollout and mean greater freedom in time for Easter.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) March 14, 2022
Furthermore, mask mandates will also be scrapped for Heathrow Airport and British Airways (on routes where permitted by law) from 16 March 2022.
UK to scrap Passenger Locator Form and all testing
Travellers to the UK currently need to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) online within 72 hours before arrival in the UK, and show this (plus proof of vaccination) during check-in.
The PLF asks travellers for their contact, travel and vaccination details. It’s a surprisingly lengthy form, and I reckon it’d take at least 15 minutes to complete.
From 4 a.m (GMT+8) on 18 March 2022, the PLF will no longer be required.
18 March travel to England changes
If you will arrive in England from abroad after 4am, Friday 18 March, you do not need to:
This will apply whether you are vaccinated or not.
You also will not need to quarantine when you arrive, in line with current rules.
Unvaccinated travellers are currently required to take a pre-departure ART/PCR test within two days of departure, as well as a PCR test by Day 2 after arrival in the UK. This will also be eliminated from 18 March 2022.
Heathrow Airport and British Airways to drop mask requirement
In a further return to pre-COVID days, both Heathrow Airport and British Airways have announced that they will scrap their mask requirement from 16 March 2022.
“In recognition that the pandemic is not over, 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.”
“From Wednesday March 16, customers will only be required to wear a face covering on board our flights if the destination they’re travelling to requires it.
For destinations where the wearing of a face covering is not mandated, our customers are able to make a personal choice, and we kindly request everyone respects each other’s preferences.”
Note the caveat that this only applies for destinations where the wearing of a face mask is not mandated.
If you’re flying British Airways from London to Singapore, you’ll be required to wear a mask throughout the flight, as that’s a CAAS requirement. However, the requirement will not apply in reverse (presumably you’ll be free to take off your mask when the plane door closes?).
From 18 March 2022, the UK will be scrapping its PLF requirement, as well as all testing and quarantine for passengers regardless of vaccination status. Two days prior to this, Heathrow Airport and British Airways will remove their mask requirements, though travellers are obviously free to continue wearing masks if they so wish.
It means that a flight bound for the UK may very well look exactly the way it was pre-COVID. No testing, no additional forms to fill, no masks, no nothing.
It’s another big step towards normality, and one I hope we’ll see more of as 2022 progresses.