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People going to England and Scotland will need a negative Covid-19 test to enter - but Ireland is exempt

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the move was designed to prevent new variants of the disease coming into the UK.

Image: Press Association

ALL TRAVELLERS TO England and Scotland from international destinations will have to test negative for coronavirus before they can enter the country – but Ireland is exempt from this requirement.

Other exemptions including children aged under 11, hauliers, crews, and for those travelling from countries without the infrastructure available to deliver tests.

From next week, passengers arriving in England by boat, train or plane – including UK nationals – will have to take a test up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure.

Similar measures have been announced by the Scottish Government, while officials were said to be working closely with the devolved administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland on adopting them there.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the move was designed to prevent new variants of the disease. Failure to comply will lead to an immediate £500 fine (around €555).

coronavirus-tue-dec-8-2020 Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. Source: PA

The move follows the decision to suspend all direct travel from South Africa following the emergence there of a new strain of coronavirus thought potentially to be even more virulent than the mutant variant which has led cases to surge in the UK.

Shapps said: “We already have significant measures in place to prevent imported cases of Covid-19, but with new strains of the virus developing internationally, we must take further precautions.

“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 – helping us control the virus as we roll out the vaccine at pace over the coming weeks.”

The announcement comes at a time when the latest lockdown restrictions across the four nations of the UK mean there is very little international travel.

The airline industry – which has been devastated by the pandemic – acknowledged the need for the restrictions but urged ministers to lift them as quickly as possible.

Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of the industry body Airlines UK, said: “This should be a short-term, emergency measure only and once the rollout of the vaccine accelerates, the focus must be on returning travel to normal as quickly as possible in order to support the UK’s economic recovery.”

Under the new rules, passengers will need to present proof of a negative test result to their carrier on boarding while the UK Border Force will conduct spot checks on arrivals.

All passengers arriving from countries not on the Government’s travel corridor list will still be required to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their test result.

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France, Wales and Scotland

Hauliers crossing the Channel to France will also still need a negative test before departure following a decision by the French government.

Meanwhile, First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced lockdown restrictions in Wales will be strengthened in “key areas” to try to halt the spread of the new variant.

He warned that unless there was a “significant” drop in cases before 29 January – when the next three-week review of the regulations is carried out – school and college students will continue to learn online until the February half-term.

In Scotland, places of worship across the mainland will close from Friday as the latest set of coronavirus restrictions continue across the country.

Yesterday, Boris Johnson pledged an “unprecedented national effort” to rollout the vaccine to nearly 14 million of the most vulnerable people by mid-February.

At a No 10 news conference, he acknowledged there would be some “lumpiness and bumpiness” but pledged that all elderly care residents will have been offered the jab by the end of January.

The pressures on the health service were laid bare by NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens who said there were 50% more patients in hospital with Covid than there were at the peak of the first wave in April, and 10,000 admissions since Christmas Day.

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