Strengthened border measures as travellers to England and Scotland required to provide negative Covid test
All travellers to England and Scotland from overseas will soon have to provide a negative Covid-19 test result before they are allowed to enter the country, the government has announced.
The test will need to be taken up to 72 hours before departure and failure to comply will result in an immediate £500 fine.
Arrivals by boat, plane and train are covered by the new regulations, which also apply to UK nationals.
The Department for Transport hopes the policy will help prevent the spread of new variants of COVID-19, such as those found in Denmark and South Africa.
Ministers have been facing calls to strengthen border measures with pre-arrival testing, which is already in place in many countries around the world.
Regardless of their test result, all passengers arriving from countries not on the government’s travel corridor list, will still be required to self-isolate for 10 days.
They will, however, have the option to reduce their quarantine period to as little as five days by paying for another test on or after the fifth full day since travelling to England.
Arrivals will also need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form and abide by the current lockdown restrictions.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, denied the government had moved too slowly to tighten controls at the border, stating he had to “wait for the… industry globally to provide enough coronavirus tests”.
He admitted “there are concerns” about the new variant of coronavirus discovered in South Africa, continuing on:
“Particularly about how effective the vaccine would be against it, so we simply cannot take chances”.
From next week, Border Force officials will check passengers’ test results to ensure they are complying with the new rules.
There will be a limited number of exemptions to the new requirements – including for hauliers, children under 11, crews and for those who travelling from countries without the infrastructure available to deliver the tests.
There will also be no need for pre-departure testing for arrivals from the Common Travel Area with Ireland.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of the industry body Airlines UK, said:
“We recognise the government’s need to act now and support the introduction of pre-departure testing in order to keep the country safe and borders open”.
Photo: Michał Parzuchowski.