Americans traveling to UK must present negative COVID test or face $680 fine

Americans traveling to the UK are now required to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken up to 72 hours before entering the country or face ‘immediate’ $680 fine

  • International travelers must test negative up to 72 hours before entering the UK
  • UK’s Department for Transport announced the new measure on Friday in a bid to keep out new mutant coronavirus strains
  • Rule will apply to all inbound passengers arriving by boat, plane or train 
  • Passengers most provide proof of a negative test to airlines or other transportation operators before boarding
  • Those who fail to comply will be issued an ‘immediate’ $680 fine, officials said
  • Comes after CDC in December announced all UK travelers would have to provide a negative test result to enter US  

Americans traveling to the UK will now be required to produce a negative COVID-19 test result before entering the country, in a new effort to stop the spread of mutant coronavirus strains circulating around the world. 

The rule will apply to all international travelers, including British nationals, arriving by boat, plane or train, the UK’s Department for Transportation announced on Friday. 

Passengers must provide proof of a negative test – taken up to 72 hours in advance – to their transportation carrier and complete a Passenger Locator Form before entering the country. 

Those who fail to comply will be denied boarding by airlines or other operators and be subjected to an ‘immediate’ $680 (£500) fine, officials said. 

All international travelers must test negative for COVID-19 up to 72 hours before entering the UK or be subject to an on-the-spot fine, UK officials announced Friday (stock image of Heathrow Airport)

All international travelers must test negative for COVID-19 up to 72 hours before entering the UK or be subject to an on-the-spot fine, UK officials announced Friday (stock image of Heathrow Airport)

The new measure was designed to prevent the spread of new mutant coronavirus strains recently found around the world.  Pictured: A man being tested at London’s Heathrow Airport

UK Border Force guards will also carry out spot checks on arrivals to ensure travelers have adhered to the rules.   

Who doesn’t have to provide a negative test on arrival in the UK? 

  • Hauliers
  • Children under 11 
  • Air crews 
  • People traveling from countries where tests are not available

It was unclear whether PCR tests will be demanded in all circumstances or if rapid tests, considered less accurate, might also be accepted. 

The agency said travelers will still be subject to national lockdown restrictions.

Officials did not specify when the new measure will come into effect, however it is expected to be next week. 

It comes after the US government in December imposed similar restrictions on airline passengers arriving to the US from the UK.

Britain was the first country to record cases of the mutant B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant, which is 70 per cent more infectious.

The mutant strain has recently fueled a surge in cases in the UK, prompting many countries to shut their borders to travelers from Britain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) later announced last month all passengers arriving from the UK must present a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours of departure.  

Their decision marked a turnaround after the Trump administration had told US airlines it was not planning to require any testing for those passengers. 

Prior to that, the health agency had issued new guidance asking international travelers to get tested before and after arriving in the US and to quarantine for a week upon arrival however, this was only a recommendation. 

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Friday said the new move was designed to prevent new variants of the disease which have emerged in countries such as South Africa and Denmark.   

‘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 defense – helping us control the virus as we roll out the vaccine at pace over the coming weeks.’     

Those who fail to comply will be denied boarding by airlines or other operators and be subjected to an 'immediate' $680 (£500) fine, officials said

Those who fail to comply will be denied boarding by airlines or other operators and be subjected to an ‘immediate’ $680 (£500) fine, officials said

Travellers will be banned from entering the UK next week if they do not have a negative test within 72 hours of departure. Pictured: Heathrow

Travellers will be banned from entering the UK next week if they do not have a negative test within 72 hours of departure. Pictured: Heathrow 

There will be a limited number of exemptions, including hauliers – or workers who transport goods by road – children under 11, crews, arrivals from the Common Travel Area with Ireland and for those travelling from countries without the infrastructure available to deliver tests.

And foreign travelers arriving from countries not on the UK’s travel corridor list will still be required to self-isolate for 10 days, even if they test negative. 

The move follows the decision to suspend all direct travel from South Africa following the emergence there of a new strain of coronavirus thought potentially to be even more virulent than the mutant variant which has led cases to surge in the UK.

The announcement comes at a time when the latest lockdown restrictions across the four nations of the UK mean there is very little international travel.

The airline industry – which has been devastated by the pandemic – acknowledged the need for the restrictions but urged ministers to lift them as quickly as possible.

Hauliers crossing the Channel to France will also still need a negative test before departure following a decision by the French government on Thursday.

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