All of UK’s travel corridors, which allowed quarantine-free travel from certain countries, have now closed.
The move comes just over a week after the government announced plans to test all international arrivals. Anyone arriving to the UK must now present a negative test for Covid-19, conducted 72 hours prior to departure and failure to present test results could lead to fines of up to £500.
In addition to mandatory testing, all travellers must self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival into the United Kingdom. Arrivals can be released from their isolation period after five days in England if they pay for a test and their result is negative. This rule does not apply in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
The UK’s travel corridors list has steadily eroded since its launch last summer when a total of 59 countries including Spain were featured. Last week, only a handful of notable destinations remained.
Now, the government has removed all travel corridors until at least 15 February.
Exemptions are in place for those arriving from the Falklands, St Helena and Ascension Islands. While those arriving from some Caribbean islands are exempt until 04:00 GMT on 21 January.
Enforcement of rules will be tightened with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stating Public Health England would be stepping up checks on individuals who must self-isolate. Raab also revealed that asking arrivals to quarantine in hotels was a “potential measure” being kept under review.
On Monday, passengers arriving at Heathrow warned there were “substantial” lines at passport control and one couple complained they “felt unsafe” due to reduced social distancing.
Meanwhile, a financial relief scheme for airports in England will launch this month in response to the new rules on travel. First announced in November, applicants could receive grants of up to £8m before the end of this financial year.
Industry groups are in favour of the scheme having warned there was only so long airport could “run on fumes,” following the new measures.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren believes the rules will not have a “significant impact” on the airline in the short term as flight numbers are already greatly reduced due to Covid-19.
Lundgren also proposes a reduction from five days to three days for arrivals to have the opportunity to release themselves from quarantine by testing negative for the virus.
A ban on all travellers from South America, Portugal and Cape Verde has also come into force after the discovery of a new variant in Brazil.
With only essential travel permitted for the whole of the UK, testing for international arrivals, and mandatory quarantine, airlines are sure to suffer in the coming months. As Tim Alderslade of Airlines UK warns, “If we’re going to have an aviation sector coming out of this we need to open up in the summer,”.
The Department of Transport says it is supporting the sector with the extension of the furlough scheme until the end of April, business rates relief and tax deferrals.
Other relevant blogs:
Northern Ireland Plans International Arrival Tests
EasyJet Secures $1.87 Billion Loan
Airlines’ Failure to Offer Covid Refunds Investigated
When lockdown eases and case numbers drop, we’d say travelling abroad will be as safe as a dine out dinner for two – given you take precautions and follow our tips.