Worldwide travellers might want to present a adverse Covid-19 take a look at earlier than being allowed into the UK, the federal government has introduced, in a major toughening of border controls to attempt to stem the spread of new coronavirus variants.
The brand new guidelines will take impact subsequent week and apply to returning UK nationals in addition to overseas residents. Passengers might want to produce a take a look at outcome taken lower than 72 hours earlier than boarding planes, boats or trains to the UK, and may very well be fined £500 in border spot checks and not using a adverse outcome.
Arrivals will nonetheless must quarantine for 10 days, even with a adverse take a look at, until they’re coming from one of many restricted variety of nations deemed low threat on the federal government’s journey hall checklist.
The transfer comes many months after border restrictions have been put in place in different nations, which have managed to deliver native transmission to an finish, and amid mounting pressure for tighter controls with fears over the South African Covid variant.
The principles will formally solely apply to England however ministers have been stated to be working carefully with the devolved administrations on related measures for Wales and Northern Eire. The Scottish authorities confirmed it could undertake the identical plan, whereas including it could not have an effect on present guidelines that make non-essential journey to and from Scotland unlawful. The principles won’t apply to guests from Eire, which can also be anticipated to place an analogous scheme in place this week.
It comes as different nations including France close their borders to British travellers as a result of extremely transmissible new variant of Covid-19 first recognized within the UK.
Pre-departure testing is seen as safer than testing on arrival to scale back the prospect of an infection throughout journey – though the aviation trade has argued the chance of transmission in flight is minimal.
Asserting the transfer, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, stated: “We have already got vital measures in place to stop imported circumstances of Covid-19, however with new strains of the virus growing internationally we should take additional precautions.
“Taken along with the prevailing obligatory self-isolation interval for passengers getting back from high-risk nations, pre-departure exams will present an additional line of defence – serving to us management the virus as we roll out the vaccine at tempo over the approaching weeks.”
Laws shall be introduced in early subsequent week, the Division for Transport stated, setting out the take a look at requirements and required proof of a adverse take a look at. Hauliers, flight crew and youngsters beneath 11 shall be exempt. Passengers will nonetheless have the ability to cut back their isolation interval by paying for an additional take a look at 5 days after arrival, beneath the Test to Release scheme.
Heathrow airport’s chief govt, John Holland-Kaye, stated: “Having called for the introduction of pre-departure testing since final April, we assist this growth which ensures passengers can proceed to journey safely. The federal government should now prioritise the creation of a typical worldwide commonplace for testing that might introduce a world course of to guard confidence in future journey.”
Earlier, the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, urged Shapps to implement extra sturdy measures owing to the capital’s publicity by means of worldwide airports, Eurostar rail arrivals and freight ports. Contrasting UK coverage with different nations’ protecting restrictions, he stated that pre-departure testing ought to be mixed with a take a look at on arrival and stricter, higher enforced quarantine guidelines.
The federal government has additionally prolonged the blanket ban on entry from South Africa to incorporate a swathe of southern African nations. From 4am Saturday, entry shall be denied to most individuals who’ve travelled from or by means of any southern African nation within the final 10 days – together with Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe, and vacation locations Seychelles and Mauritius. British and Irish nationals can return however should self-isolate with their households for 10 days.