AS countries move to keep out an aggressive new strain of Covid-19 that emerged in the United Kingdom last month, the British High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago has advised of travel requirements when entering or leaving the UK.
All international arrivals into the UK, including UK nationals, are now required to present a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to departure, for entry into that country.
Passengers will be subject to an “immediate fine of £500” if they fail to comply with the new regulations on pre-departure testing, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced.
All passengers arriving from countries not on that government’s Travel Corridor list “will still be required to self-isolate for ten days, regardless of test result”.
Passengers will also still be required to fill in a Passenger Locator Form and be subject to national lockdown restrictions, Shapps has said.
The British High Commission in T&T said in a release yesterday that Shapps announced that from next week, inbound passengers arriving by boat, plane or train will have to take a test no more than 72 hours before departing the country they are in, to help protect against the new strains of coronavirus such as those seen in Denmark and South Africa.
The High Commission quoted Shapps and other UK officials that the move further bolsters existing protective measures which helped to safely enable international travel last year, with self-isolation for new arrivals and Travel Corridors remaining critical in reducing the risk of imported cases from high-risk countries.
“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,” Shapps said.
“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,” he added.
The decision was in response to changes seen in the transmission of the virus domestically within the UK and across the globe, the Commission stated.
Pre-departure testing is intended to protect travel and “will provide an additional layer of safety from imported cases of coronavirus on top of the mandatory ten-day quarantine for arrivals, helping identify people who may currently be infectious and preventing them from travelling to England”, it said. “A negative pre-departure test reduces the risk of someone travelling whilst infectious, acting as another safeguard to prevent imported infections.”
Passengers arriving from countries not on the government’s Travel Corridor list must self-isolate for ten days regardless of their pre-departure test result to provide further robust protection from those travelling from high-risk countries.
Prior to departure passengers will need to present proof of a negative Covid-19 test result to carriers, as well as their Passenger Locator Form.
The UK Border Force will conduct spot checks on arrival into England to ensure that passengers are fully compliant, the Commission said.
A tiered national lockdown went into force in the UK on January 6 and remains in place, “meaning everyone must stay at home unless travelling for a very limited set of reasons, including for work”.
Passengers arriving into England from a country on the Travel Corridor list, who have successfully demonstrated a negative result prior to departure from a country not on the Travel Corridor list will still “have the option to reduce the self-isolation period from ten to as little as five days by paying for a test through the Test to Release scheme”, the Commission said.
On arrival back into the UK, Border Force will check passengers’ test results through the current spot check regime, to ensure individuals are compliant with the new rules and non-compliance will result in an immediate fine of £500.
“There will be a limited number of exemptions, including for hauliers, children under 11, crews and for those who are travelling from countries without the infrastructure available to deliver the tests,” the Commission said.