Mandatory COVID testing introduced at UK borders

International arrivals to the UK will from next week be required to prove negative COVID-19 test results before departure.

In an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus, all international arrivals -- whether by boat, plane or train, and including UK nationals -- will be required to present a negative result from a test taken up to 72 hours prior to departure. Failure to comply with the new regulations will be met with an immediate fine of £500.

It is hoped that today’s somewhat delayed reaction to the rising number of COVID cases and deaths in the UK will help provide an additional layer of safety from imported cases of the virus.

Following the announcement, travel risk expert and CEO of the Travel Risk & incident Prevention Group, Lloyd Figgins, said a risk-based approach to overseas travel is an obvious and necessary step.

“Airports need to have robust testing processes in place and we hope that this lays the groundwork for Government investment in airport testing centres to help kick start the travel industry when the time is right.

“This continues to be a very difficult time for the whole travel and tourism industry globally, but the only way we will get people travelling overseas again is to put their safety first and that means a negative test in order to travel. I hope we see airlines and tour operators responding responsibly to the announcement and focus on how they can rebuild the confidence and trust of travellers which the pandemic has decimated.

“Whilst this might feel like a negative step, the travel risk industry views this as the first really positive step in getting oversees travel moving once again. It is a watershed moment for the travel industry and whilst there are still difficult times ahead, it could prove to be a move which saves many travel and tourism operators from going under.”

The new rules will apply in addition to national lockdown restrictions already in place since 6th January, and will apply irrespective of whether a country is on the travel corridor list.

Passengers arriving into England who have successfully demonstrated a negative result prior to departure from a country not on the travel corridor list will still have the option to reduce the self-isolation period from 10 to potentially 5 days by paying for a test through the Test to Release scheme. The scheme requires a test to be taken on or after the fifth full day since leaving a country not on the travel corridor list.

Hauliers, children under 11, crews and for those who travelling from countries without the infrastructure available to deliver the tests are exempt from these new rules.

All travellers are still required to complete a passenger locator form before arrival into England, with the fine for non-completion currently set at £500.

Numbers rising across the board

The UK Government reported 52,618 cases in the last 24 hours, and 1,162 deaths.

1,296,432 individuals were reported to have been vaccinated as of 3rd January.

557,441 virus tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 6th January.

3,600 (COVID) patients were admitted to hospital.

Listen to CIR's latest podcast on employee health, well-being and security amid COVID-19, featuring travel risk experts International SOS.

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