The British Embassy in Luxembourg has announced the British government's decision to introduce mandatory COVID-19 testing for international arrivals before entry to the United Kingdom.
From next week, passengers arriving from all international destinations will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result before departing for England to help protect against new strains of coronavirus circulating internationally. Inbound passengers arriving in the country by boat, plane or train will have to take a test no more than 72 hours before departing the country they are in.
Prior to departure passengers will need to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result to carriers, as well as their Passenger Locator Form. Transport operators will deny boarding if necessary. On arrival back into the UK, Border Force will check passengers' test results through the current spot check regime to ensure that individuals are compliant with the new rules and passengers will be subject to an immediate fine of £500.
Pre-departure testing is expected to provide an additional layer of safety from imported cases of coronavirus on top of the mandatory ten-day quarantine for arrivals. Passengers arriving from countries not on the British government’s "travel corridor" list must self-isolate for ten days regardless of their pre-departure test result to provide further protection from those travelling from high-risk countries.
Passengers arriving from a country on the travel corridor list, who have successfully demonstrated a negative result prior to departure from a country not on the travel corridor list, will still have the option to reduce their self-isolation period from ten to as little as five days by paying for a test through the "test to release" scheme. The scheme requires a test to be taken on or after the fifth full day since leaving a country not on the travel corridor list.
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. Further exemptions will be set out on gov.uk.
National lockdown restrictions which came into force on 6 January 2021 remain in place, meaning everyone must stay at home unless travelling for a very limited set of reasons, including for work.
Scotland confirmed it would adopt a similar measure and Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to follow suit.