U.K. to require pre-departure COVID-testing from January 18

 Thursday, January 14, 2021 


U.K. will now require pre-departure COVID-19 testing for everyone travelling to England starting Monday, January 18, 2021. The new regulations were set to come into force on Friday, January 15 but have been delayed as the government said it needed more time to prepare for the new rule. People arriving by plane, train or boat, including U.K. nationals, will have to take a test up to 72 hours before leaving the country they are in.

Anyone arriving from places not on the travel corridor list will still require self-isolating for ten days, much to the dismay of the hospitality sector. The government mentioned that issues with testing availability and capacity will initially exempt some countries like the requirement will not apply to travellers from St Lucia, Barbados, and Antigua and Barbuda for six days. Similarly, travellers from Falkland Islands, Ascension Islands and St Helena are exempted permanently. Hauliers are exempted to allow the free flow of freight, as are air, international rail and maritime crew.

Announcing the delay in execution, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps took to social media and said that “To give international arrivals time to prepare, passengers will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before departure to England from Monday 18th January at 04:00.” He also reminded travellers to fill out the Passenger Locator Form used in track and trace and added that those without proof of a negative test might face a fine of £500. Besides England, Scotland is set to adopt the same approach for international travellers, while Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to announce plans for pre-arrival testing in the coming days.

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