All passengers planning on travelling to England, including UK Nationals, will soon be required to present a negative COVID-19 Test prior to boarding transport, whether that be a plane, train or boat, to protect against the spread of new COVID-19 variants worldwide.
This mandatory testing introduced by the Government requires all passengers to England to have had a negative result from a test taken up to 72 hours before departure. If passengers do not comply with these new measures, they will face an immediate fine of £500. There are exemptions for children under the age of 11, hauliers, people travelling from countries who do not yet have the infrastructure to deliver tests and arrivals from the Common Travel Area with Ireland.
However, passengers arriving from countries, not on the government’s travel corridor list will still have to isolate for the required 10 day period, regardless of their pre-departure test result.
Also, those arriving in the UK will still need to present their passenger locator form, so that they can be contacted should they have been in contact with someone who has later developed COVID-19 symptoms or to check they are self-isolating.
International arrivals to the UK will need to prove they’ve received a negative #COVID19 test taken no more than 72 hours before departure – helping to further protect people from #coronavirus. Exemptions apply.
— Dept for Transport #StayHomeSaveLives (@transportgovuk) January 8, 2021
Currently, all non-essential travel is banned in the UK, after the introduction of a nationwide lockdown on Tuesday 5th January 2021.
Although, many people have welcomed these measures, those within the travel industry are worried about what the impact will be. The boss of Heathrow Airport, John Holland-Kaye, said that this measure is a real ‘belt and braces approach’ since the industry has been arguing for mandatory testing as an alternative for quarantine, not for them both to be implemented at the same time. However, both measures are now in place, which could dissuade people from travelling. The chief executive of Airlines UK, Tim Alderslade wants these restrictions to only be a ‘short-term, emergency measure’. Bosses within the travel or aviation industries are calling for the restrictions to be lifted once the vaccinations have been rolled out. Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary said:
Boris Johnson has told us he will have vaccinated the 14 million high risk categories by the middle of February. What we need Grant Shapps to do today is confirm then that this ridiculous pre-arrival testing will then be removed by the middle of February.
The government has not put an end date on these restrictions yet, like they haven’t set an end date for the current lockdown period either. This is worrying for the travel industry, as travellers will be reluctant to book future travel, since they don’t know when restrictions will be lifted. However, these restrictions have been implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19 and its new variants, and protect those arriving in the UK and those they could come into contact with when they return.