Starting next week, International arrivals in the UK from anywhere in the world will require a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours before departure, as part of new measures announced on Friday to contain the spread of new variants of coronavirus circulating internationally. Passengers will be subject to an immediate fine of 500 pounds if they fail to comply with the new regulations on pre-departure testing.
“We already have significant measures in place to prevent imported cases of Covid-19, but with new strains of the virus developing internationally, we must take further precautions,” said UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “Taken together with the existing mandatory self-isolation period for passengers returning from high-risk countries, pre-departure tests will provide a further line of defence- helping us control the virus as we roll out the vaccine at pace over the coming weeks,” he added.
The UK Border Force will conduct spot checks on arrival into England to ensure that passengers are fully compliant, the government said. The test could be either in the form of PCR tests or lateral flow tests currently available to detect coronavirus, but that further details will be laid out in the coming days.
The move is intended to “further bolster” existing protective measures. Self-isolation for new arrivals and travel corridors remains critical in reducing the risk of imported cases from high-risk countries. Passengers arriving from countries, not on the government’s travel corridor list must continue to self-isolate for ten days regardless of their pre-departure test result.
The Scottish government has confirmed it will adopt similar rules to England and said this would not affect current restrictions making non-essential travel to and from Scotland illegal. Wales and Northern Ireland would follow similar control measures as they remain in lockdown. The measure comes after a further 1,162 deaths were reported in the UK on Thursday – the second consecutive day of more than 1,000 recorded fatalities. There were also 52,618 new cases. The UK PM has promised daily rolling updates on vaccination figures starting Monday as a means out of the country’s lockdown, which is expected to last until March.