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Pre-departure testing compulsory for England arrivals

Pre-departure tests will be compulsory for travellers to England from next week.

All international passengers travelling to England will be required to present a negative Covid-19 test before departure, according to a government statement released on January 8.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said that from 4am, Friday, January 15, all inbound travellers arriving by boat, train or plane would have to take a test no more than 72 hours before departure.

The new regulation has been driven by the emergence of a new fast-spreading strain of coronavirus that has been detected in South Africa and Denmark.

Travellers from countries not on the UK government’s safe travel corridor list must also quarantine for ten days on arrival, regardless of their pre-departure test result.

Arrivals will also need to fill-in a passenger locator form when they arrive. The government said the UK Border Force will be checking arrivals are fully compliant, with on-the-spot fines of GBP500 for those who breach regulations.

Limited exemptions will apply to hauliers, children under the age of 11 years and air crew.

“Taken together with the existing mandatory self-isolation period for passengers returning from high-risk countries, pre-departure tests will provide a further line of defence,” said Shapps.

From January 9, flights from southern African countries including the island nations of Mauritius and Seychelles will be banned from landing in England. Anyone travelling indirectly from South Africa must self-isolate for ten days.

Passengers who are able to show proof of a negative pre-departure test will be able to reduce their quarantine to five days if they pay for a test on the fifth day of isolation through the government’s ‘Test to Release’ scheme.

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