COVID-19: International travelers to England will need a negative COVID test before being allowed in | Political news

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All travelers to England from overseas will need to test negative for the coronavirus before being allowed to enter the country, the government said.

The test will have to be taken up to 72 hours before their departure – and failure to comply will result in an immediate fine of £ 500.

Arrivals by boat, plane and train are covered by the new regulations, which also apply to UK nationals.

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Those arriving in England from abroad – including UK nationals – will be required to provide a negative test result

The Department of Transport hopes this policy will help prevent the spread of new variants of COVID-19, such as those found in Denmark and South Africa.

Ministers have long faced calls to strengthen border measures with pre-arrival tests, which are already in place in many countries around the world.

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

They will have the option of reducing their quarantine period to as little as five days by paying for another test on or after the fifth full day since their trip to England.

Arrivals will also need to complete a passenger locator form and adhere to current lockdown restrictions.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We have already put in place important measures to prevent imported cases of COVID-19, but with the development of new strains of the virus internationally, we need to take additional precautions. .

“Together with the existing mandatory self-isolation period for passengers returning from high-risk countries, the pre-departure testing will provide an additional line of defense – helping us control the virus as we roll out the vaccine on a weekly basis. to come up. ”

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Starting next week, border officials will check passenger test results to make sure they are following the new rules.

There will be a limited number of exemptions from the new requirements – including for carriers, children under 11, crews, and for those traveling from countries with no infrastructure available to perform testing.

Pre-departure testing will also not be necessary for arrivals from the Common Travel Area with Ireland.

The new rules currently only apply to England, although the Department for Transport is working with the decentralized administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to apply our similar measures.

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MP Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow secretary of the Labor Party, said the measures were a “necessary step”.

However, he added: “The Labor Party has called for a comprehensive strategy on testing for international travel since April. Instead, the government has gone from one crisis to another.

“During that time, they lost control of the virus and risked leaving the country’s doors open against the possibility of different strains of the virus entering the country from all over the world.

Tim Alderslade, managing director of industry body Airlines UK, said: “We recognize the need for the government to act now and to support the introduction of pre-departure testing to keep the country secure and borders open.

“However, this should only be a short-term emergency measure and once the vaccine roll-out gathers pace, the focus should be on getting travel back to normal as quickly as possible in order to support the UK’s economic recovery.

“This includes removing the need for quarantine or testing as the UK population is vaccinated and the virus is under control at home and abroad. ”

At the same time, the French government has decided to keep the current arrangements for checking truck drivers crossing the Channel.

Last month, France drastically closed its border to arrivals from Britain – amid fears of the new COVID variant in the UK – the resulting chaos causing huge queues of carriers around Kent’s highways.

An agreement to reopen the border between the two countries to carriers and certain passengers – if they test negative for COVID – was later reached.

And, following a review of the measures, the French government decided Thursday to keep the restrictions in place.

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