International arrivals 'will have to test negative before entering the UK'
International travellers will have to test negative before entering the UK in a bid to keep new strains of the virus out of the country, it is understood.
Passengers will be required to show a negative result from no more than 72 hours before departure, although measures could be even tighter and include a second test on arrival.
Hauliers will be exempt from the restriction, which comes as England is plunged into its third national lockdown.
Boris Johnson didn’t mention air travel in his address to the nation on Monday night, in which he ordered schools to close and said the weeks ahead ‘will be the hardest yet’.
But according to The Times, ministers are considering tougher border restrictions to bring down spiralling Covid cases.
Meanwhile Cabinet officer minister Michael Gove today confirmed the Government is considering options to restrict international travel to help limit the spread of Covid-19.
He told LBC that a review of the arrangements at the UK’s borders was under way amid calls for tighter controls or even a flight shutdown.
When asked if the Government would shut airports to South Africa, where a new more virulent strain has emerged, Mr Gove said: ‘We may need to go even further than that in restricting international travel, but we are reviewing that with the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.’
He did not rule out closing the borders to incoming flights, saying: ‘We want to make sure that they [our borders] are as safe as possible, so we are reviewing what the appropriate restrictions might be.’
But he said it was not as simple as imposing a ‘blanket restriction’ as some journeys need to be made for ‘vital commercial reasons’, such as to import food and medical supplies.
‘It is making sure that we have the safest possible approach and that involves reviewing how our ports and airports work’, he said.
Ministers have faced pressure to tighten border controls for some time, with many questioning why this has not been done already.
Most countries have much tougher border measures in place than the UK.
The requirement for a negative test to be taken no more than 72 hours before arrival has been adopted by Greece, France and Germany, among others.
The strictest countries insist on a test being taken before departure plus a test on arrival and mandatory quarantine of up to 14 days.
Neil O’Brien, the Conservative MP for Harborough who leads Boris Johnson’s policy board, suggested that South Korea’s strict arrangements offered an example the UK could follow.
He tweeted that procedures need to ‘toughen up at the border.’
A former Downing Street official told The Times that Mr Shapps had prevailed after pressure from the airline industry for lighter touches, but that the emergence of new variants had put border measures ‘firmly back on the table’.
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