England Delays Start Of Mandatory Pre-Flight Testing

England has delayed implementing its new mandatory test before departure scheme for all those traveling to the country. The system was set to come into force at 04:00 tomorrow, but an announcement from the Secretary of State for Transport has pushed this back.

England, COVID-19 Testing, Delayed
England has delayed the launch of its new testing protocol for incoming travelers. Photo: London Heathrow Airport

Europe is now deep into its second wave of the COVID-19 virus. As more variations of the virus have become apparent, countries are implementing increased border controls to stem the spread of COVID-19. Countries are essentially trying to remove the threat of imported cases so that they can focus on containing and controlling domestic cases. Most recently we’ve seen the United States announce that all arrivals will need a negative test.

A last-minute delay

The UK Government’s new testing scheme for arrivals was due to launch tomorrow morning. However, the system now won’t launch until 04:00 on Monday, January 18th. While passengers are still advised to get a test before traveling to England, they won’t be penalized for not having a test before this time.

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Tweeting about the news, the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said that the delay was to give international passengers more time to prepare for the changes. It’s unclear what prompted the last-minute delay.

England, COVID-19 Testing, Delayed
The delay was announced by the Secretary of State for Transport at 11 pm last night. Photo: Twitter

What are the new rules?

The new rules mean anybody entering the country from 04:00 on Monday will need to have a COVID-19 test no older than three days. The government points out that being a UK citizen or traveling from a travel corridor country will not exempt you from the requirement.

There are some exemptions from the rules, though. Those originating in the common travel area will be exempt, as will those from Ascension, the Falkland Islands, and St Helena. Children under 11 are also exempt, as are those who cannot take a test for medical conditions (proof is required, though). There are also a handful of exemptions based on jobs such as Civil Aviation Inspectors. The full list of exemptions and how they work can be found on gov.uk.

England, COVID-19 Testing, Delayed
Most travelers still need to quarantine for ten days on arrival. Photo: UK Government

What happens if you don’t have a certificate?

If you don’t have a certificate when traveling to England, the most likely outcome is that the transport operator will deny you permission to travel to the country. If you were to make it past this point, you could be fined £500 if you arrive in the country without a negative certificate.

Of course, if you have a positive certificate, you should not travel, and instead, follow the guidelines for COVID-19 cases where you are. Unless from a travel corridor country, you will still be required to quarantine on arrival in the UK, even with the negative COVID-19 test.

What do you think of the delay in implementing the rules? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!