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UK now requires PCR test from all international visitors

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UK now requires PCR test from all international visitors

Starting the week of Jan. 11, those traveling to England or Scotland, including British citizens and permanent residents, must provide a negative PCR test result prior to boarding the flight taking them there, according to Grant Shapps, the United Kingdom’s transport secretary.

The test will need to have been taken no more than 72 hours before the train, boat or plane is scheduled to depart.

Those exempted from this requirement include children ages 10 and younger and travelers coming from countries that do not have the “infrastructure available to deliver the tests.”

Although Wales and Northern Ireland have not supported this new requirement as of yet, Shapps said that he expects them to do so soon.

Additionally, those individuals who have needed to self-isolate after arriving must still do so.

This includes people with recent travel history in countries not on the travel corridor list. Specifically, those who have spent any part of the last 10 days prior to arriving in England or Scotland in one or more places not on that list must self-isolate for 10 days although the Test to Release program can shorten that time frame.

All travelers planning to enter the U.K. must also complete a passenger locator form prior to arrival.

According to Shapps, what sparked these more severe restrictions was the development of COVID-19 strains.

UK-now-requires-PCR-test-from-all-visitors
AFP/Getty Images. Tolga Akmen

Not only there is a more contagious one that was initially discovered in the U.K., but others have been detected in South Africa and Nigeria as well. As a result, British authorities are scrambling to both control the strain that has quickly spread within its borders and limit the import of related ones.

Shapps and other British officials have also communicated their concern that existing vaccines may not work as intended against the strain that was discovered in South Africa; Shapps added that “we simply cannot take chances.”

Policy changes that resulted from that fear included the adoption of a travel ban affecting South Africa on Dec. 23 and the adding of several other African countries to it on Jan. 7.

The U.K. entered a national lockdown on Jan. 6 in an attempt to limit the impact of the British strain. As a result, Brits are not allowed to travel for non-essential reasons, domestically or internationally.

Meanwhile, those who were already abroad when this was put into place are not being advised to return home but may do so, depending on where they have been.

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