The travel corridor closure will be in force until at least February 15.
From today (18 January), travel corridors allowing people to enter the UK without self-isolating have closed, in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19 after another strain of the virus began to appear. Under the new rules, travellers arriving into the likes of Birmingham Airport must now present a negative coronavirus test taken no more than 72 hours before departure and quarantine for up to 10 days.
Whether by boat, train or plane, arrivals to the UK without proof of a negative Covid-19 test will face a fine of up to £500. In England, the isolation period can be cut short with a negative test after five days of the travellers’ arrival, however this does not apply in Scotland, Wales or Northern Island.
The rules, which came into effect from 04:00 GMT today, also state that arriving from the Falklands, St Helena and Ascension Islands are exempt. Plus, those arriving from some Caribbean islands are exempt until 04:00 GMT on Thursday 21 January. The government has said the travel corridor closure will be in force until at least February 15. The suspension of all travel corridors comes after new variants were identified in the UK, South Africa, and most recently, Brazil.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC’S Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that Public Health England would be stepping up checks on travellers who must self-isolate. He said enforcement checks at borders would also be “ramped up” and added that asking all arrivals to self-isolate in hotels was a “potential measure” the government was keeping under review.
The travel industry has said closing the travel corridors was understandable due to the health emergency, but warned it would deepen the crisis for the sector. The Department for Transport announced on Sunday that it is supporting the travel industry with an extension to the furlough scheme until the end of April, business rates relief and tax deferrals.
With all parts of the UK under a strict national lockdown, only essential travel is permitted. The Department of Transport also announced an update to which jobs qualify for travel exemptions. Business investors, performing arts professionals, journalists, as well as those who work in “high-end” television production and film, ornamental horticulture, advertising and the National Lottery are among the jobs that are no longer exempt. Aircraft crew, hauliers, offshore oil and gas workers and people involved in elite sport are among those whose exemptions remain.