COVID-19: Passengers coming to UK may have to test negative for virus under new plans

·2-min read

Foreign travellers may need to test negative for coronavirus before being allowed into the UK if ministers back plans to tackle surging cases.

The prime minister told the Downing Street press conference on Tuesday that the government will be "bringing in measures to ensure that we test people coming into this country and prevent the virus from being readmitted".

Ministers are understood to be considering introducing a requirement for international arrivals to provide a negative PCR test result, taken no more than 72 hours prior to their departure.

It will apply to those travelling by plane, ferry and train - but UK nationals and those who live there will be exempt. It is understood that hauliers will be, too.

Government minister Michael Gove hinted at the plan during a series of broadcast interviews on Tuesday.

He said he was in discussions with the devolved UK administrations about the terms of the announcement in a bid to ensure all four nations had the same approach.

The move, which has also been called for by MPs including the former Conservative health secretary Jeremy Hunt, brings the UK in line with many other countries and marks a significant toughening of the rules.

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Until the latest lockdown, arrivals into England from nations that are not exempted under the ever-shrinking travel corridor programme have had to isolate for 10 days.

But under the test and release scheme introduced in December, this can be shortened if they have a private test five days after their departure and it comes back negative.

During the first lockdown, the government argued against introducing border restrictions while the prevalence of coronavirus was so high in the UK, with experts arguing it would do little to bring down infection rates.

But a quarantine period was introduced in June after the first peak and when cases were more under control.