LONDON — Almost all international arrivals to England will be required to present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test before traveling, U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced Friday.
The new measures — a major escalation of the U.K. government’s pandemic border restrictions — will apply from next week to arrivals from all countries, including those on the U.K. government’s so-called travel corridor list of lower-risk countries. Those found to be in breach will face an immediate £500 fine.
Tests will need to be taken up to 72 hours prior to departure. Initially, the new measures will only apply to England, but the U.K. government said it was working with devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with a view to introducing similar measures.
Those traveling to England by boat, plane or train will have to show proof of a negative test to their carrier and fill out a passenger locator form. Spot checks will be carried out by U.K. Border Force to monitor compliance.
Ministers portrayed the new measures as a response to a growing risk of new coronavirus variants being imported into the country, which is already seeing a sharp rise in cases. New variants have been identified in South Africa, Denmark and the U.K. itself.
The country already has a quarantine regime, requiring arrivals from countries not on its travel corridor list to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival — a measure that will still apply alongside the new testing requirements.
“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,” Shapps said in a statement. “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 defense — helping us control the virus as we roll out the vaccine at pace over the coming weeks.”
Exemptions from the new measures will apply for hauliers, children under 11, transport crews and those traveling from countries without the infrastructure to deliver tests. The measures do not apply within the U.K. and Ireland’s Common Travel Area.
The U.K. government said it will soon set out required standards for the tests, as well as the kind of proof passengers will be required to present to carriers.
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UK to require negative COVID test for overseas arrivals The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Politico.