People arriving in England will have to prove they have tested negative for coronavirus from Monday – not Friday as originally planned, the government has announced.
“To give international arrivals time to prepare passengers will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before departure to England from MONDAY 18 JANUARY at 4am,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a tweet on Wednesday.
The scheme was originally due to begin at 4am on Friday 15 January.
UPDATE: To give international arrivals time to prepare ⏱️ passengers will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before departure to England from MONDAY 18 JANUARY at 4am ?
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) January 13, 2021
Under the new rules, passengers arriving in England by plane, boat or train will need to have taken a coronavirus test within the previous 72 hours.
Those who fail to comply will face an immediate £500 fine.
The regulations also apply to returning UK nationals, but not to those entering from Ireland, any other part of the UK, the Falkland Islands, Ascension and St Helena.
Those landing from Antigua, Barbuda, St Lucia and Barbados do not require a negative test result on arrival until 4am on 21 January. After that date, the same rules apply.
Hauliers, children under the age of 11 and those travelling or assisting someone who needs urgent medical care are exempt.
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Announcing the changes last week Transport Minister Robert Courts said: “Both globally and domestically we are seeing significant increases in levels of coronavirus, including the emergence of worrying new strains.
“It is therefore imperative that we ensure we are doing all we can to protect travel, reduce the risk of imported infections, including from new variants, and protect our NHS while national lockdown and vaccinations take effect.
“We already have strong safeguards in place, including a requirement for mandatory 10-day self-isolation for the vast majority of arrivals and our Travel Corridors system remains critical in managing the risk of imported cases from high-risk countries.
“However, as a result of increasing instances of COVID-19 around the world, including the emergence of new variants, we are now taking additional steps to add a further layer of protection to safeguard public health.”