UK and France Dismiss Intentions to Start Mandatory COVID-19 Test for Travelers Entering Their Countries

COVID Test Required for Travelers (Photo: Eduardo Munoz)

The U.K. and France confirmed on Thursday that they currently have no intentions to reinstate mandatory Covid-19 tests or impose additional requirements on travelers entering their countries.

U.K. Defense Minister Ben Wallace indicated later on Thursday that he anticipated clarity from the Department for Transport regarding any potential new regulations for incoming travelers by Thursday or Friday.

This announcement follows several nations implementing new measures in response to China’s easing of Covid restrictions amid concerns over a suspected surge in infections despite reduced domestic testing.

Beijing recently lifted its quarantine requirement for arrivals, prompting many individuals to book their first overseas trips in years.

Italy, which was the epicenter of Europe’s initial outbreak in early 2020, became the first country in the region to announce mandatory antigen swabs for all travelers arriving from China on Wednesday.

According to a report by la Repubblica, on a flight arriving in Milan’s Malpensa Airport on December 26, 52% of passengers tested positive for Covid.

European Union health officials were engaged in discussions on Thursday to coordinate a unified response.

“From a scientific perspective, there is currently no justification for reintroducing border controls,” stated Brigitte Autran, head of the French health risk assessment committee COVAR.

Officials from Germany, Portugal, and Austria also expressed reluctance towards implementing new measures.

However, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed concern at a press conference that Italy’s testing measures might prove ineffective without EU-wide implementation, given that many travelers enter Italy via other Schengen countries.

Testing for Chinese Travelers at EU Airports (Photo: AFP)

Preliminary tests indicated Covid-positive travelers from China had omicron variants.

Italy’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases called for increased testing for arrivals from China, emphasizing the need for coordinated surveillance at the European level, according to Ansa news agency.

“Italy cannot be the only country conducting anti-Covid checks at airports for arrivals from China,” tweeted Italian Transport Minister Matteo Salvini, according to a translation by Google.

Starting January 5, the U.S. mandated that all arrivals from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau must present a negative Covid test taken within two days before departure.

India also announced requirements for a negative test from passengers arriving from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand, with those testing positive or displaying Covid symptoms being quarantined.

Japan and Taiwan are set to conduct tests upon arrival for passengers arriving from mainland China.

While the U.K. government stated it had no immediate plans to reintroduce Covid tests or additional requirements for arrivals, it emphasized ongoing monitoring of the situation through Thursday.

It indicated potential policy changes, particularly if other European countries reinstate testing requirements.

Officials cited a lack of transparent information from China regarding new variants as a reason for potentially tightening precautions.

Beijing attributes its recent outbreak to the highly transmissible yet less severe omicron variant. However, due to insufficient data and historical concerns over transparency, many nations are adopting a cautious approach.

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