Pre-departure testing for travellers entering Scotland has been scrapped in line with the rest of the UK, the Scottish Government has said.
The change will take effect from Friday at 4am, while those coming into the country will also be able to use a lateral flow test instead of a PCR as their post-arrival test, taken on or before the second day of their stay, from Sunday at 4am.
The requirement to self-isolate until a negative PCR is returned will also come to an end.
Only travellers above the age of 18 and who are fully vaccinated with two doses are impacted by the change – a booster is not required, according to Scottish Government guidance.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the same changes for travellers into England on Wednesday, “frustrating” Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf after UK-wide discussions on the issue had taken place.
Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan said rules there will “reluctantly” match those put in place in England.
Despite the changes, Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson urged caution over Covid-19 as the Omicron variant spreads and the number of total cases in Scotland rose above one million.
He said: “We still have significant concerns over Omicron, but we recognise that now it is the most dominant strain in Scotland and across the UK, it is sensible to review the measures currently in place.
“We also fully understand the impact of the restrictions on staff and businesses in the travel and aviation sectors, and these changes demonstrate our commitment not to keep measures in place any longer than necessary.
“However, people still need to be extremely careful when travelling and to remember that both our and other countries’ Covid-19 requirements can change at short notice as things can evolve very quickly.
“People should therefore ensure they have travel insurance and carefully check their booking terms and conditions, as well as ensuring compliance with the latest regulations for the country being visited.”
On BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Thursday, Mr Yousaf said: “Although we engaged in a conversation with the UK Government, it is a source of frustration that if the UK Government unilaterally decides to move in a certain direction we end up with potentially a double whammy if we don’t align.”
Not changing the rules for Scotland, Mr Yousaf said, would have a negative impact on the travel sector north of the border, while posing no public health benefit if travellers could fly to England, follow the rules there and then drive into Scotland.
“Our aviation sector, which has undoubtedly been significantly affected throughout the course of the pandemic, gets a further hit and also we don’t end up realising any benefit if we have different public health measures in place, because ultimately a number of people may well travel from English airports if that is seen to be easier of cheaper,” he added.