Do I need a negative Covid test to fly into the UK? New rules explained

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The UK has finally, long behind most other countries in the world, made it mandatory to have proof of a negative coronavirus test before entering the country. The current lockdown means any unnecessary travel is completely banned, and the public is ordered to stay-at-home as much as possible.

Boris Johnson said: “In protecting the UK from transmission from abroad, we will bring in measures to ensure that we test people coming into this country and prevent the virus from being readmitted.”

Called Test and Release, passengers affected by the new rule will need to show a negative test certificate before being allowed to board trains, ferries or planes onto UK soil.

The aviation industry began calling for mandatory testing at airports more than nine months ago, and the Government is finally listening to the plea.

In September, the Prime Minister repeatedly dismissed the need for testing at airports and by airlines but has appeared to make another coronavirus policy U-turn.

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Do I need a test to get into the UK?

England and Scotland have updated their guidance, meaning anyone who now wants to enter the country must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test.

Anyone wanting to enter will now only be allowed to so so if they have an antigen test result – for example PCR or lateral flow – that shows they have tested negative for the virus.

The long-awaited change will come into force from the middle of next week.

The test result needs to be from the last 72 hours.

It is up to the passenger to arrange the test before they travel, as they will be denied entry without proof they don’t have the virus.

These restrictions apply to anyone travelling to the UK by plane, ferry or train – apart from returning UK nationals and permanent residents – who are exempt, but may need to isolate for 10 days, depending on the country.

Hauliers will also be exempt, the Government has confirmed.

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Can I still travel abroad?

No. Despite borders still being open and planes still flying, you cannot leave the country unless you are travelling for an essential reason.

This includes travelling between UK nations, for example between England and Scotland.

Many countries have also banned travel in and out as they try to stem the outbreak of the new variant, which has been found in multiple other countries.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “This country already has some of the strongest safeguards against importing Covid-19 in the shape of mandatory 10-day quarantine for the vast majority of arrivals, and Test to Release.

“Additional measures, including testing before departure, will help keep the importation of new cases to an absolute minimum, while national lockdown and vaccination take effect.”

Heathrow airport tweeted: “We continue to request that the UK government establish a common international standard for pre-departure testing to ensure safer travel to and from all destinations.”

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