All travel corridors now closed due to new Covid variant fears
Emergency border measures have been introduced to prevent the spread of new variants of coronavirus into the UK. All ‘travel corridors’ are now closed for at least a month.
In addition, anyone travelling to the UK must have a negative test before arriving – or face a £500 fine if they fail to take a test.
The government announced the new border measures to prevent the spread of concerning new variants of coronavirus into the UK, such as those first identified in Brazil and South America, and to protect the country against the risk of as yet unidentified new strains.
All travel corridors with the UK are now suspended – meaning that all international arrivals will be required to both take a pre-departure coronavirus test, and self-isolate immediately for 10 days on arrival. This includes British and Irish nationals.
This move will be supported by increased enforcement, both at the border and across the UK, with Border Force increasing the number of spot checks on passengers that have entered the country.
International travel corridors have been in place since July 2020 for countries and territories where critical analysis suggests the risk of Covid-19 can be mitigated.
However, the level of risk associated with the emergence of new variants globally has now increased, requiring more stringent measures to block all potential avenues through which new strains of the virus could enter the UK while the government considers how best to respond.
The new measures will be reviewed on Monday 15 February.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “We are operating in a completely new environment in our fight against Covid-19, with several worrying new strains of the virus emerging across the globe.
“Now more than ever, as we make strides vaccinating people up and down the country, we need to take advantage of all measures available to us – and these robust emergency precautions will help us protect the nation to ensure we continue to make progress.
“As has been the case throughout the pandemic – the government is moving quickly in response to the latest scientific evidence, and we will continue to take swift action in banning travel from countries where new strains are formally identified, as we have done previously.”
National restrictions for England introduced on 6 January 2021 remain in place, meaning that everyone must stay at home unless travelling for a very limited set of reasons.
Those in breach of the lockdown rules face penalties starting at £200, rising to a maximum of £6,400.
The government’s Test to Release scheme will remain in place, giving passengers the option to shorten the mandatory self-isolation period to five days if they test negative for coronavirus.
Antony Martin, managing director at Rock Insurance Group, said: “Following the government’s decision to close all UK travel corridors from 4am this morning until at least 15th February, it is important to note that people can and are still booking holidays for travel later on in the year and travel insurance will be essential to ensure they are protected against Covid-related issues both pre-departure and during their trip.
“It is also important for consumers to be aware of changes regarding their EHIC cards. Most people’s European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) were valid until 31st December 2020 when the Brexit transition period ended and are now being replaced with the Global European Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which just covers EU countries (and not Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland). Before the pandemic hit, 80% of all trips taken from the UK were to Europe and historically 30% of these customers didn’t take out travel insurance and instead relied entirely on the EHIC card to protect them.”