Another country is changing travel requirements because of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.
Starting on Dec. 7, all travelers 12 years and older flying into the U.K. will be required to take a PCR or later flow test taken no more than 48 hours prior to departure. That time is down from 72-hours previous.
The U.K. made the decision “in light of emerging evidence of the Omicron variant,” it said in a statement, adding that the requirement will be reviewed by U.K. authorities on Dec. 20.
“These are temporary measures that have been introduced to prevent further Omicron cases from entering the U.K., and will be examined at the three-week review point on 20 December.”
At the same time, the U.K. is banning those coming from Nigeria, a country that has been responsible for at least 21 Omicron cases in England. The temporary travel ban will impact all non-UK and non-Irish citizens and residents who have been in Nigeria during the last 10 days.
The ban does not apply to those who have stayed airside and only transited through Nigeria while changing flights.
According to the U.K. Health and Security Agency (UKHSA), the window between “infection and infectiousness may be shorter for the Omicron variant, which increases the efficacy of pre-departure testing as it is more likely to identify positive cases before travel.”
“Following developments in the past week, the science shows that we must be cautious in guarding against this new variant and so, while we appreciate this will be difficult for the travel sector, it’s important we prioritize public health,” U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement.
“As we learn more about the Omicron variant, we will review these temporary measures to ensure they continue to be proportionate and necessary to protect public health.”