Britain’s government on Friday said that all international passengers traveling to the UK will soon have to test negative for Covid-19.
Travellers, arriving by plane, train or boat, including UK nationals, must take a test up to 72 hours before leaving the country they are in.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said travelers “can’t board… without having that negative test”.
The top rule when arriving in the UK is to self-isolate for 10 days.
Mr Shapps said the government was “very keen to do this now” as the new variant of the virus identified in South Africa “is of great concern to scientists”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a new lockdown for England this week after a surge in cases linked to a new variant of the coronavirus believed to have originated in the country.
- Exceptions to the new test requirement rule would be offered to shippers, children under 11, crews, and people from countries where tests are not available, the government said.
Passengers will be fined £500 ($ 678.30) for failing to comply with the new regulations. The UK aviation industry recognized the need to take action to introduce pre-departure testing, but only as a short-term emergency measure.
“Once the roll-out of the vaccine accelerates, the focus must be on returning travel to normal as quickly as possible in order to support the UK’s economic recovery,” Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, an industry group, said.
The UK requires passengers from many countries to self-isolate for 10 days, or five days if they pay for a private test and test negative. These requirements will remain in place even after the new test rule comes into force before departure.
The UK government worked with the decentralized administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to introduce similar measures.