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Travellers must show negative Covid test to enter UK

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The government has tightened border controls so that arrivals need to show a negative Covid test before entering the UK in a bid to protect against the new strains circulating internationally.

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”.

And today, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed all international arrivals in England, including for UK nationals, will be required to present a negative Covid test taken up to 72 hours before departure, whether by boat, plane or train.

The rules will come into effect next week and the UK Border Force will conduct spot checks on arrival into England to ensure passengers are fully compliant. Passengers failing to comply face a £500 fine.

The only exceptions include hauliers, children under 11, crews and for those travelling from countries without the infrastructure available to deliver the tests.

Passengers arriving from countries not on the government’s travel corridor list will still be required to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of the test result.

However, those arriving into England with a negative result prior to departure from a country not on the travel corridor list do have the option to reduce the self-isolation period from 10 to as little as five 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.

Passenger locator forms will still need to be filled in.

The rules are also expected to come into force in Scotland, Wales and Norther Ireland next week.

Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “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.

“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 defence – helping us control the virus as we roll out the vaccine at pace over the coming weeks.

“National lockdown restrictions which came into force on 6 January 2021 remain in place meaning everyone must stay at home unless travelling for a very limited set of reasons, including for work.”

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