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02/09/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/09/2021 03:35

Two tests for all UK arrivals during quarantine

All travellers entering the UK will be required to take two coronavirus tests while quarantining in an attempt to prevent variants entering the country.

Arrivals will be required to get a test on days two and eight of their 10-day quarantine period, whether they are isolating at home or in a hotel.

The Department of Health said the move would enable authorities to track new cases more effectively.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will set out more details in the Commons later.

It is in addition to the current rules which say travellers arriving in the UK, whether by boat, train or plane, must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to be allowed entry.

This test must be taken in the 72 hours before travelling, and anyone arriving without one faces a fine of up to £500, with Border Force officials carrying out spot checks.

Travellers must provide contact details and their UK address. They can then travel - by public transport if necessary - to the place where they plan to self-isolate.

From 15 February, UK residents and Irish nationals arriving from certain countries will have to quarantine in hotels.

Passengers will have to stay in their rooms for 10 nights, with security guards accompanying if they go outside.

The rules will apply to UK nationals and residents arriving from 33 'red list' Covid-19 hotspots - mostly in South America and Africa - where it's feared Covid variants may have already spread. Passengers will be expected to pay for the cost of the accommodation.

Non-UK travellers who have been in these countries in the 10 days before travelling are banned from entry.

All travellers - including British nationals - must self-isolate for 10 days when they get to the UK.

The 'test to release scheme' - where travellers from non-red list countries can leave home isolation after a negative test on day five - will remain under the new testing rules.

Passengers will be expected to use the gold-standard and more expensive PCR tests.

'Guesses about the unknown'

It comes as England's deputy chief medical officer warned it was soon to say to what extent people could begin to start planning summer holidays.

Speaking at Monday's coronavirus briefing, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said: 'The more elaborate your plans are for summer holidays, in terms of crossing borders, in terms of household mixing, given where we are now, I think we just have to say the more you are stepping into making guesses about the unknown at this point,' he said.

'I can't give people a proper answer at this point because we don't yet have the data. It is just too early to say.'

Lockdown rules mean people must only travel abroad for essential reasons. These are the same as the 'reasonable excuses' for domestic travel, including:

• Work that cannot be done from home
• Medical appointments
• Educational reasons

People leaving England will soon have to make a declaration on why they need to travel, which will be checked by carriers prior to departure.

Speaking about the new testing plans, a Department of Health and Social Care said it was 'important the government continues to take the necessary steps to protect people and save lives'.

A spokesman added: 'Enhancing our testing regime to cover all arrivals while they isolate will provide a further level of protection and enable us to better track any new cases which might be brought into the country, and give us even more opportunities to detect new variants.'

Meanwhile, the government is urging any over 70s in England who have not yet received their first jab to contact the NHS to ask for an appointment. Previously people were told to wait until they were invited.

As of Monday, 12.2 million people have received their first jab. The government is aiming to reach 15 million vaccinations of high priority groups by 15 February.

Source: BBC