International arrivals, including UK nationals, will need to present a negative COVID-19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to departure for entry into the country following new government measures announced this morning.
Passengers who fail to comply with the new pre-departure testing regulations will be given an immediate fine of £500. The new rules apply to all passengers arriving from countries not on the Government’s Travel Corridor list and passengers will still be required to self-isolate for ten days, regardless of a negative test result.
The new measures were announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in response to the changes seen in the transmission of the virus both domestically and across the globe and to help protect against new strains of coronavirus such as those seen in Denmark and South Africa.
Pre-departure testing will provide additional layer of safety
The government has stated pre-departure testing will provide an additional layer of safety from imported cases of coronavirus on top of the mandatory 10 day quarantine for arrivals, helping identify people who may currently be infectious and preventing them from travelling to England.
Passengers arriving from countries not on the Government’s Travel Corridor list must self-isolate for ten days regardless of their pre-departure test result to provide further protection from those travelling from high-risk countries.
Prior to their departure, passengers will need to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result to carriers, as well as their Passenger Locator Form. The UK Border Force will conduct spot checks on arrival into England to ensure compliance.
“New strains of the virus developing internationally”
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “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.”
“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.”
National lockdown restrictions which came into force on January 6, 2021 remain in place and require everyone to stay at home, unless travelling for a very limited set of reasons, including for work.
Government still to detail standards and proof needed
Permitted travellers will need to take their test up to 72 hours before departure, a measure which will apply irrespective of whether a country is on the Travel Corridor list. The Government will set out the standards that tests will need to meet and the proof passengers will need to present.
Passengers arriving into England from a country on the travel corridor list, who have successfully demonstrated a negative result prior to departure, will still have the option to reduce the self-isolation period from 10 to around 5 days by paying for a test through the Test to Release scheme.
Passengers will be required to show their negative test result before boarding, and transport operators will deny boarding if necessary. On arrival back into the UK, Border Force will check passengers test results through the current spot check regime, with those found not in compliance with the rules subject to an immediate fine of £500.
Measures follow concerns over South African COVID variant
There will be a limited number of exemptions, including for hauliers, children under 11, crews and for those who travelling from countries without the infrastructure available to deliver the tests and these exemptions will be set out on gov.uk.
The new measures follow the recent decision to temporarily suspend direct travel from South Africa to England after new evidence emerged from health authorities reporting an outbreak of a variant strain of coronavirus spreading to some local communities. Those travelling indirectly from South Africa must self-isolate for ten days.
All travellers will be required to complete a Passenger Locator Form before arrival into England which enables authorities to track the virus in case of any local outbreaks. Those failing to complete a Passenger Locator Form will be subject to an increased fine of £500.