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Travellers may need negative Covid test to enter UK

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Written by: Emma Lunn
06/01/2021
The government is considering tightening border controls so that arrivals need to show a negative coronavirus test before they come into the country.

The move comes nearly 10 months after the pandemic began, with many other countries implementing similar measures much sooner. Airports and airlines have both been calling for airport testing for several months, with some airports selling private Covid-19 tests.

In a press conference on Tuesday, prime minister Boris Johnson promised to bring in “measures to ensure that we test people coming into this country and prevent the virus from being readmitted”.

Ministers are understood to be considering introducing a requirement for international arrivals to provide a negative PCR test result, taken no more than 72 hours prior to their departure.

The rule will apply to those travelling by plane, ferry and train, but UK nationals and residents will be exempt. Passengers affected by the new rule will need to show a negative test certificate before being allowed to board transport to the UK.

A Tweet from @HeathrowAirport backed the plans. It said: “We continue to request that UK Gov. establish a common international standard for pre-departure testing to ensure safer travel to and from all destinations.”

In interviews on Tuesday, government minister Michael Gove said he was in discussions with the devolved UK administrations about the terms of the announcement in a bid to ensure all four nations had the same approach.

During the first lockdown, the government argued against introducing border restrictions and claimed it would do little to bring down infection rates. Quarantine for arrivals was introduced in June.

Currently it is a legal requirement for all passengers arriving in the UK to complete a passenger locator form online within 48 hours of arrival.

Arrivals are required to self-isolate for 10 days, but few checks are carried out to ensure the rules are adhered to.

The Test and Release scheme, introduced in December, allows the quarantine period to be cut to five days in the event of a negative test.

However, the scheme appeared unorganised on launch with several of the private companies approved by the government not ready to carry out tests.

All but essential travel is now banned under lockdown rules.

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