Travellers entering the UK will have to take Coronavirus tests on day two and eight of their 10-day quarantine in a bid to prevent new strains from entering the country. Passengers who flout these rules may be issued with a fine of up to £10,000. It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock set out the new rules to the House of Commons this afternoon.

The penalties

From 15 February, all passengers entering the UK will have to provide the negative tests before being allowed out of isolation. The rules will apply to all arrivals, not just travellers from the 33 red zone countries who are also required to quarantine in a hotel.

Anyone who fails to comply with the rules will face consequences. This includes a £1,000 fine for any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory test. A £2,000 penalty will be issued for any international arrival who fails to take a second mandatory test and a £5,000 fixed penalty notice rising to a £10,000 fine for arrivals who fail to quarantine in a designated hotel. Anyone who provides false information on a passenger locator form may face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

What the Health Secretary had to say

Health Secretary Matt Hancock
Health Secretary Matt Hancock © Number 10

The Health Secretary set out the strategy to combat new strains earlier today. He said: “We’ve been working to get this right across government and with airport operators, passenger carriers and operational partners including border force and the police. I know this is a very difficult time for both airlines and ports and I am grateful to them for working so closely with us.”

He added: “In short, we are strengthening the health protection of the border in three crucial ways. Hotel quarantine for UK and Irish residents who have visited a red list country in the past 10 days and home quarantine for all passengers from any other country. A three test regime for all arrivals and firm enforcement of pre-departure tests and the passenger locator form. I make no apologies for the strength of these measures.”

What next?

The online portal to book the PCR tests will go live on Thursday before the new rules come into action next Monday. If either of the tests come back positive, travellers will have to quarantine for a further 10 days from the date of the test.

Inside Heathrow Airport at Golden Hour
Passengers arriving in the UK will face tougher rules © nikonimania

At the moment, passengers arriving into the UK must have a negative Covid test 72 hours before their flight and then isolate for 10 days upon arrival.

The decision to increase testing was made after pressure on the government to introduce stricter border plans. Travellers are reminded that it is illegal to travel abroad without a legally permitted reason to do so.

What do you think about the decision to test all passengers twice during their quarantine? Do you think this will be an effective way of controlling the spread and identifying new strains? Let us know your thoughts. 

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