The UK travel corridors closed from 04.00 GMT today.
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.
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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 suspension of all travel corridors comes after new variants were identified in the UK, South Africa, and most recently, Brazil.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “International travel has played a key role in previous waves of coronavirus and is a significant risk to our efforts to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level. The emergence of these new variants mean we must think carefully about restrictions on travel. It is crucial we take the right steps to prevent importing new strains that can increase transmission or undermine the vaccine in Scotland.
“Travel into or out of Scotland is currently illegal and that will remain the case while we work to suppress the new strain of COVID-19. It remains the case that any travel must be for an essential reason. Everyone must stay at home as much as possible to minimise the risk of catching or spreading the virus.”
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 also announced 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.