International travelers will need to show a negative Covid-19 test before being allowed into the UK, the government has announced, in a significant toughening of border controls to try to stem the spread of new coronavirus variants.

The new rules will take effect next week and apply to returning UK nationals as well as foreign citizens. Passengers will need to produce a test result taken less than 72 hours before boarding planes, boats or trains to the UK, and could be fined £500 in border spot checks without a negative result.

Arrivals will still need to quarantine for 10 days, even with a negative test, unless they are coming from one of the limited number of countries deemed low risk on the government’s travel corridor list.

The move comes many months after border restrictions were put in place in other countries, which have managed to bring local transmission to an end, and amid mounting pressure for tighter controls with fears over the South African Covid variant.

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