The Omicron variant is causing growing concern about new regulations, including face masks for shops and PCR testing for passengers.  

From 4am tomorrow, England’s public transport will require that you cover your face. This applies to banks, hairdressers and shops as well. It is not required for pubs or restaurants.

Travellers from outside the country will be required to submit to a PCR testing within two days of arrival.

Only vaccinated travelers who have not been previously vaccinated were required to undergo a lateral flow test. They did not need self-isolate until they got a positive result.

Non-vaccinated immigrants arriving in England for the first time will still need to have one pre-departure test, two post-arrival DNA tests and be kept quarantined for at least ten days. 

A second change was made to the rules People identified as potential contacts for Omicron cases must isolate themselves for 10 days, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated.

Today’s regulations will be presented to Parliament before their entry into effect tomorrow. MPs will also have a chance to vote retrospectively within the next four week.   

MailOnline examines what these changes will mean to you. 


People who have been fully vaccinated and are arriving in the UK must self-isolate for the first day to receive a positive result. 

Which changes are coming to the test travel regulations?

Tomorrow morning at 4am (Tuesday), the travel regulations for testing in England will be changed. These answers are for anyone arriving after this time.


How do you get vaccinated if you are arriving in England?

You can self-isolate if you’re fully vaccinated at 4 am tomorrow.

You can travel to self-isolation by train and bus. 

Yes. Yes. 

Air passengers queue to check in for flights at London Heathrow Airport this morning

This morning, passengers waited in line to register for their flights at London Heathrow Airport.

Is it possible to use a lateral flow testing?

No, lateral flow tests will not be accepted from 4am tomorrow – it must be a PCR test.

You must do these things before you can travel to England.

To book and pay for a PCR testing in England before the second day, you must complete a passenger locator form within the first 48 hours.

Is England required to obtain a “fit to fly” certificate prior flying home?

You don’t need to book your PCR test or fill out the passenger locator form. It is not necessary to submit a negative test before flying into England.

Is it possible to use the NHS for your PCR test?

No, you must use a private test provider – and you will have to enter your test booking reference number on your passenger locator form.

Are you staying in England for less then two days?

You will still have to pay and book for the day 2 test.

Is day two defined?

The second day following your arrival is called Day 2. Day zero is the day that you arrived. Day two is the day you arrived in England if it’s a Friday.

Is it necessary to keep the results awaiting your return?

Yes. To get your result, you must be able to isolate yourself in the home you live at or where you stay.

Is it possible for the results of the tests to be delayed?

You should still be self-isolating until you know the test results or 14 days after your arrival.

Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport this morning as a testing centre sign is seen

Heathrow Airport is open to passengers this morning. A sign for the testing center can be seen.

If the test results are unclear, what should you do?

You must self-isolate for ten days if you have taken a PCR test but the results are not clear. Day zero is the day that you took your test. You can choose to take another private test – and, if the result is negative, you can stop self-isolating.

Is it possible to get a positive test?

If your PCR results are positive, self-isolate the test for ten consecutive days. Day zero marks the beginning of the test.

If the test results are negative, what should you do?

It is possible to end the self-isolation.

Is it possible to be fully immunized?

It is necessary to have evidence of complete vaccination using an approved vaccine.

Your last dose must be received at least 14 days prior to your arrival in England. Day zero is the day that you received your last dose.

To be considered fully vaccinated, you don’t need to have received a third “booster” jab. 

Is there anyone who can provide evidence of vaccination?

You can get proof from either the UK vaccine program or the United Nations vaccination programme for staff members and volunteers. Or, you may obtain proof through an overseas vaccination program with approved proof of vaccination to travel to the UK.

Which vaccines are safe?

You can find out which vaccines have been approved, and which countries/territories have received approved evidence of vaccination. Click here.


Can non-vaccinated persons be fully vaccinated?

Yes. You can be fully vaccinated even if not.

If you have been vaccinated in the UK, how can you show proof of your status?

If you’re fully vaccinated according to the UK vaccine programme, then you can use the NHS Covid Pass (England and Wales), the NHS Scotland COVID status app, or an approved paper certification.

What if your jab was done outside the UK and you want to prove that you are vaccinated?

Click here to see the required documentation for your country/territorial vaccination.


If you can’t prove that you have been fully vaccinated according to the English rules, what happens?

You must comply with the rules applicable to people not fully vaccinated if you are unable to prove you meet the requirements.

If you’re not fully vaccinated, what should you do to get into England?

You must pass a Covid-19 or PCR test before traveling to England. Book and pay for the day 2 and 8 PCR tests after arriving in England. In the 48-hours before your arrival, you must complete a passenger locator.

The Omicron variant has now been detected in 14 countries. It was initially identified in Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong before being spotted in Belgium on Friday. Over the weekend several other countries confirmed cases. It has now spread to four continents in the almost three weeks since the first case

The Omicron Omicron variation has been found in 14 countries. It was originally identified in Botswana (South Africa), Hong Kong, and Hong Kong, before it was spotted in Belgium Friday. Over the weekend, several countries confirmed that there were cases. The virus has since spread to at least four continents within three weeks of the first instance.

You aren’t fully vaccinated when you arrive in England. What should you do?

You must first quarantine in England once you have arrived. Your arrival day is also known as day zero.

What happens to you if your vaccination is not complete and you’re in England for less that ten days?

If you are in England for less than ten days, you need to quarantine for the time you are here – and you still need to book day two and day eight PCR tests, but only need to take these if you are still in England on those days.

If the results of day 2 are positive, what should you do?

You must isolate yourself for 10 days if your positive day 2 test results are confirmed. Day zero is the day that you took your test. If your positive day 2 test score is greater than 1, you don’t need to go on the day 8.

What should you do if your eight-day test results are positive?

You must isolate yourself for at least ten days if your day 8 test results are positive. You are now at day zero.

If the results of day 2 are negative, what should you do?

You must keep your negative day 2 test in mind and continue your isolation work. Then, take the day 8 test.

What should you do if your eight day test results are negative?

If your day eight test is negative, you can stop quarantine on whichever is later – either 1) day ten, with day zero being the day you arrived in England; or 2) when you receive the day eight test result.

This means that you should continue quarantine up to the end of day 10 if your negative day 8 test results are returned on day 9. You must continue to quarantine your patient until you get the day 12 negative result.

B.1.1.529, or the Omicron variant, has some 50 mutations — 30 of which are on its spike protein which the virus uses to invade cells. The current crop of vaccines triggers the body to attack the spike protein from older versions of the virus. But there are fears that the spike on B.1.1.529 may look so different that the body's immune system will struggle to recognise it and fight it off, leading to an infection

B.1.1.529, or the Omicron variant, has some 50 mutations — 30 of which are on its spike protein which the virus uses to invade cells. The body uses the current vaccines to fight the older forms of the virus’ spike protein. However, there is concern that B.1.1.529 could be so distinct that the body may not recognize it or fight it off.

Is it possible to get unclear results?

If you are unsure of the results from your day two exam, self-isolate yourself for ten days. Day zero is the day that you took your test.

You must isolate yourself for 10 days if you are unsure about your day 8 test. You are now at day zero.

Another private test could be taken. If that test result is a negative result, you can stop self-isolating on whichever is later – either 1) day 10, with day zero being the day you arrive in England; or 2) the day you received the negative replacement test result from the additional test.

Is the Test to Release still applicable?

Yes. You may be allowed to release a patient from quarantine if the Test to Release plan allows you to pay for an individual Covid-19 test.

You can pay privately for Covid-19 testing on Day 5 under the Test to Release program. You can terminate your quarantine if your test results are negative.


Are children required to remain in England during their first days of arrival?

No. The quarantine requirement for children under 17 is not required. It does not matter if they have been vaccinated.

Is it mandatory that children take the Covid test when they arrive in England?

Covid-19 tests are not mandatory for children under four years of age.

Children aged 5-17 years old do not need to pass the Covid-19 exam before they travel to England.

However, they have to take an English test when arriving in England for children aged 5-17 years. 

Tomorrow, all five- to seventeen-year-olds will need to take the PCR test.


Is it possible to travel from Ireland, or another part of the UK, into England?

It doesn’t matter if your destination is the UK or Ireland.

Only if you’ve not traveled outside of the UK or Ireland in the 10 days preceding your arrival in England. 

Is it possible for some individuals to be exempt from these restrictions because they are employed?

If you are a member of one of these jobs, you might be eligible for an exemption to one or more Covid-related travel restrictions.

They include pilots and crew for aircraft, BBC transmission network and service roles, and border security duties.

How do you travel to other countries (beyond the Common Travel Area) when you’re not in England?

Check the foreign travel advisory for any country you are planning to visit. This will tell you if your passport has to be valid. These rules can vary from one country to the next.

By requiring arrivals to undergo ten days’ self-quarantine, Switzerland effectively “redlisted” Britain. Britons arriving to the country from Britain will be required to provide proof of their full vaccinations, and also a negative Covid testing. 

Spain announced the imposition of a travel ban for British citizens who have not been vaccinated. This was after Portugal stated that it would require proof of negative testing, even for visitors with double jabs.


Do you still have to use the red listing?

There are some exceptions to the rules for those who have traveled in red-list countries or territories in the 10 days prior to arriving in England. No matter how fully vaccinated you may be, the red list rules will apply.

The red 10 countries

  • South Africa
  • Botswana
  • Eswatini
  • Lesotho
  • Namibia
  • Zimbabwe 
  • Angola
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Zambia

Which countries are included on the red-list?

Since Friday, the UK has added ten African nations to its red list.

At 12pm on Friday, November 26, South Africa, Botswana and Eswatini moved onto the red-list. 

At 4am on November 28th, Angola and Malawi were added to the red-list.

Is it possible to travel from red-listed countries into England?

Yes. However, if there has been any time you’ve been in a red country or territory in the past 10 days, then you won’t be allowed into the UK. You will need to either be a British National or an Irish National or you have resident rights in the UK.

You must do these things before you can travel to England.

You should take a Covid-19 lateral flow test or PCR test within three days of your arrival in England. Book a Quarantine Hotel Package (see below) that includes two PCR tests, and fill out a Passenger Locator form.

Is it worth the price of a Quarantine Hotel Package?

One adult in one room for ten days (11 nights) is £2,285. The additional rate for one adult (or child over 11) is £1,430, while the additional rate for a child aged 5 to 11 is £325. Children under 5 years old do not need to be paid, however they will have to complete the quarantine. 


The requirement to cover your face in public transport will apply to shops, banks, hairdressers and other retail outlets. But it won’t be required in restaurants and pubs. 

How will new regulations for face coverings work?

At 4 a.m. tomorrow, all retail locations, including banks, hairdressers and post offices, will require face covers.

Which rules apply to tomorrow morning before 4 AM?

As things stand, you can wear a face mask in shops. However, some stores may request that you do. Transport is not covered by any rules, except for those on Transport for London. 

Although it’s not against the law to use London transportation without a mask, you may be asked for your passport.

Passengers wear face masks on a London Underground train on the morning commute today

On the London Underground Train, commuters wear masks for their morning commute. 

How much will you be fined for not complying with the law from tomorrow?

British Transport Police are expected to advise passengers on the new rules, but breaches could feasibly see £200 fines.

London TravelWatch stated that this requirement must be properly enforced in order to signal the change of the rules. 

Do exemptions apply to face coverings?

All exemptions to health and for other reasons are still valid.

Do you need to use a mask when dining in restaurants or pubs?

These rules are not applicable to hotels in England. Edward Argar, Health Minister, stated that this is because it’s illegal to eat and drink with a mask.

A woman wearing a face mask walks past a couple at a Sainsbury's in Kent earlier this year

One woman walks past two people in Kent wearing a face-mask earlier this year, as they are shopping at Sainsbury’s.

But what about at schools?

Schools and colleges across England have been advised by the Department for Education that face-masking is required for students entering year 7.

The new guidance – which came into force today, unlike the other guidance on shops and public transport which begins at 4am tomorrow – says staff, visitors and pupils are ‘strongly advised’ to wear a face covering in communal areas, unless they are exempt.

There is not any guidance that says pupils must wear masks while seated in their classroom. 

Und was about universities? 

Department for Education also recommends that staff, students, and university students wear facial coverings in public spaces such as corridors or communal areas. 


Persons identified as potential contacts for Omicron cases must isolate within ten days of being exposed, regardless of vaccination status. 

To whom do the self-isolation rules now apply? 

All Omicron-susceptible contacts should be self-isolated, regardless if they have been vaccinated.

You want to know how you can find out if your contact is involved in a possible Omnicron case.

NHS Test and Trace will contact you.

Is it possible to isolate yourself?

You must not go to work, school or public places – and work from home if you can. It is against the law to use public transportation or taxis or travel outside for food or medicine.

You must also not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care. Also, you shouldn’t go outside to exercise. 

According to the NHS, you should exercise in your own home and/or in your backyard if possible.

Are we heading towards another Pingdemic, or?

People’s NHS Covid-19 app “pinged” them, asking them to tell them if they were in contact with anyone who had Covid-19. This caused the Pingdemic that occurred this summer.

If Omicron is responsible for a large increase in cases it may mean that many people remain at home and are referred to as ‘Pingdemic 2.0.


Is it possible to keep the rules as they are?

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said the measures will be reviewed in three weeks, which would be the last Saturday before Christmas.

Can the restrictions be made more severe?

The first ministers of Scotland and Wales today called on Boris Johnson to extend self-isolation rules for all UK arrivals from two to eight days — as Scotland confirmed six cases of the Omicron variant including some with no links abroad.

Nicola Sturgeon advised Scots to work from their homes immediately in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. This is a warning signal that England may soon be subjected more restrictions.

In areas where it has been suspected that the super-strain is already transmitting, surge testing will be carried out.

Mark Drakeford and Ms Sturgeon have requested an emergency Cobra meeting in order to develop a “tougher four nation approach” to stop the spread of this variant.