From Monday 18th January 2021, pre-departure COVID-19 testing will be required for all UK arrivals. People arriving by plane, train or boat, including UK Nationals, will be required to take a test up to 72-hours before leaving the country they are in and provide a negative test certificate before they are able to travel.
The Government has stated that all forms of PCR test would be accepted, as will other forms of COVID-19 test “with a >97% specificity and >80% sensitivity at viral loads above 100,000 copies/ml”, so that could in some cases included Lamp and lateral flow tests.
Are travellers still required to quarantine?
If British Nationals test positive for COVID-19 while abroad, the Government states that you should not travel and should follow the local guidance on self-isolation.
Because all UK Travel Corridors are currently closed, passengers returning from any destination are required to self-isolate for 10-days, regardless of the test result ahead of travel. Receiving a negative test result within the 72-hour window ahead of travel will not prevent travellers from having to self-isolate on arrival in the UK. From Monday 15th February, on day 2 and 8 of your 10-day self-isolation in the UK, a further COVID-19 test will also be required.
As of Monday 15th February all passengers arriving into the UK from Red Listed countries will be required to quarantine in government-provided accommodation for 10-days. Anyone travelling into England from these countries will no longer be allowed to self-isolate in their own homes, but instead will be provided with accommodation near to arrival airports where their quarantine can be monitored more effectively by the government. Cost of the 10-day stay must be paid by the passenger and is estimated to be £1,750 per person. Fines of up to £1,000 and/or the threat of prosecution will be issued to those who do not comply with any of these new measures. On days 2 and 8 of your 10-day self-isolation you will also be required to take further COVID-19 tests.
The Red List Countries are:
Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Guyana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe
The Business Traveller Quarantine Exemption and the Test to Release scheme do not apply to those travelling from 'red list' destinations.
Airlines, train operators and ferry firms will be expected to enforce the rule, and face fines if they allow travellers on board without an approved test certificate. Carriers may deny boarding to passengers who are not in receipt of a qualifying negative test.
All individuals who fail to comply with this new test measure requirement will be fined £500 immediately by UK Border Force officials on arrival.
Are there any exceptions to the rule?
Travellers from Falkland Islands, Ascension Islands and St Helena are exempted permanently, because of the issues with testing available in these destinations.
Children under the age of 11 are exempt from these pre-travel testing requirements. Hauliers also are exempt to enable the free flow of freight, as are air, international rail and maritime crews who are able to continue working as they are now.