Travellers will have to provide a negative Covid-19 test before arriving in the UK as part of an effort to prevent the spread of new coronavirus variants.
Passengers, including returning Britons, will be required to show proof of a negative test result obtained less than 72 hours before departure for the UK, with £500 fines for those who flout the rules.
Those arriving from countries not on the travel corridor list will still be required to self-isolate – even if they test negative – although they will be allowed to leave quarantine with a second negative test after five days.
Exemptions will apply for hauliers, children aged under 11, air and boat crews, and those “travelling from countries without the infrastructure available to deliver the tests”.
The new rule is expected to come into force early next week, and while the current plan only applies to England, the Scottish Government has confirmed that it will adopt similar measures “as soon as possible”, without adapting the current policy that makes all ‘non-essential’ travel to Scotland illegal. Wales and Northern Ireland are also expected to announce their own testing requirements today.
Heathrow airport chief executive John Holland-Kaye told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that this new measure should only be temporary. “We need to have a roadmap for how we get out of this because aviation is vital to us as a small island trading nation,” he said.
The strict new border controls come amid mounting fears over the highly contagious South Africa Covid variant, and the Government has now banned arrivals from 12 southern African countries, including South Africa, Namibia, the Seychelles and Mauritius, to stop its spread.
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