Foreign Visitors to U.K. Will Require Negative Covid Test to Enter Britain

Date: 2021-01-15 22:47:15

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The U.K. said it will close its travel corridors with countries around the world, meaning all visitors from overseas will require a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of travel to enter Britain.

Visitors may be checked when they arrive in the U.K. and could face substantial fines if they don’t comply, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at a televised press briefing on Friday. The new rules will come into force at 4 a.m. on Monday local time.

“We will be stepping up our enforcement both at the border and in country,” Johnson said.

The latest restrictions are another hit to an airline industry that has been battered by the pandemic for almost a full year. Carriers have essentially written off the first quarter and are focused on a recovery built around vaccinations taking place during the summer.

While the measures are understandable, “this adds to the current near-complete shutdown of the U.K.’s airports, which are vital for our post-pandemic prosperity,” Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said in an email. “This is making a devastating situation for U.K. airports, and communities relying on the jobs and economic benefits that aviation brings, worse.”

The countries where visitors could previously arrive in the U.K. without needing to quarantine on arrival included Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, and Norway. Now, arrivals will have to self-isolate for 10 days, though this can be cut short if they test negative after five days under the U.K.’s test-release program. The measures will be in place at until at least Feb. 15.

“At this crucial stage, we can’t have new variants with unknown qualities coming in from abroad,” Johnson said. “This is not the time for the slightest relaxation of our national resolve and individual efforts.”

Johnson announced the travel curbs as his senior health advisers raised doubts about how soon wider social restrictions can be lifted. Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned that, while he expects “things are going to improve in the spring,” the new variant of the virus might make the reopening of the economy more difficult.

Britain is already grappling to control its own faster-spreading variant of the virus that forced the country into a third lockdown earlier this month. Johnson said it will continue to “be up and down.”

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