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Published on Friday, January 8, 2021

International arrivals must show negative Covid test, Govt. confirms

International travellers, including UK nationals, will need to show a negative Covid test to enter England and Scotland, the government has confirmed, in a tightening of border controls to tackle the spread of infections.

But the requirement will not replace the current quarantine rules which will remain in place.

The Department for Transport said proof of a negative test will 'provide an additional layer of safety from imported cases of coronavirus on top of the mandatory 10 day self-isolation for arrivals'.

International travellers must take a test up to 72 hours before arriving in England and Scotland and present the negative result before boarding.

On arrival into the UK, Border Force will conduct spot checks on passengers. Those unable to provide a negative test face a £500 fine.

The requirement is expected to come into effect in England next week and in Scotland 'as soon as possible'.

Similar measures are likely to be introduced in Wales and Northern Ireland.

The government has yet to stipulate which type of test will be required.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We already have significant measures in place to prevent imported cases of Covud-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."

The government added it will soon 'set out the standards that these tests will need to meet and what proof passengers will need to present'.

Passengers will still have the option to reduce the self-isolation period from 10 days to five by paying for a test through the test-to-release scheme. 

There will be a limited number of exemptions, including for hauliers, children under 11, crews and for those who travelling from countries without the infrastructure available to deliver the tests.

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