England Will Require Coronavirus Testing For Travel

Filed Under: Travel

England has added a new restriction for international travelers. Is this a step in the right direction, or just kind of pointless at this stage?

England will require negative COVID-19 test for travel

Starting next week, passengers arriving from all international destinations will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result before departing for England to help protect against new strains of coronavirus circulating internationally.

Passengers arriving by boat, plane, or train, will have to take a test up to 72 hours before departing the country they are in. Passengers will have to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result to airline representatives during check-in, along with their passenger locator form. Then the UK Border Force will conduct spot checks on arrival in England to ensure compliance.

As the government describes it, this policy change is “to help protect against the new strain of coronavirus, such as those seen in Denmark and South Africa.” It’s said that this will provide an additional layer of safety from imported cases of coronavirus.

England will require international travelers to get tested

This is in addition to England’s existing restrictions

England’s new pre-travel testing requirement complements existing measures in place:

In other words, people can only travel for essential reasons right now, and everyone entering England needs to get a test prior to travel, and those coming from a country not on the travel corridor list also need to quarantine upon arrival.

Those arriving in England from some countries also need to quarantine

My take on England’s testing requirement

Many argue that England is basically a year late here, which isn’t untrue (then again, that’s still ahead of the restrictions in the US).

What do I make of this policy change? On the surface it doesn’t make much sense to me. That’s to say that England has among the highest cases in the world right now, so therefore someone coming from another country likely poses less risk than the average person already in the country. It’s not terribly logical to require someone coming from New Zealand to England to get tested.

At least that’s generally the case. The twist here is that this is allegedly being done to protect against the new strain of coronavirus. From a global perspective England has been under the most scrutiny for new strains, which raises the question of just how many new strains there are, and if any of them aren’t yet widespread in England.

More than anything I suppose this is an attempt to discourage people as much as possible from traveling, and that’s fair enough. In some countries this could also pose a real problem for those looking to return to England — it’s not possible everywhere in the world to both get tested and get a result within such a short timeframe.

Bottom line

England will start requiring all arriving international travelers to present a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of travel. This is in addition to the self-quarantine for those coming from outside the travel corridor list, as well as the general ban on leisure travel at the moment.

The government says that this new testing requirement is intended to protect against new strains of coronavirus circulating internationally.

What do you make of England’s new travel testing policy?

  1. As will Australia for those allowed to travel
    Into Australia. Announcement was made yesterday by ScoMo.
    Some perspective re the UK. 78000 have died. Roughly the same number of people who attended the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. Agree it is way too late but hopefully…..

  2. I agree that it is intended to discourage travel, but further than that, entry restrictions, of which this becomes one, can become necessary when medical services have the potential to be overloaded. London has declared a major incident with higher hospital occupancy than April.
    Further, we see a constant flight of people abroad whenever lockdowns are announced who then can bring the virus back and there are idiots who will try to travel even when positive. An example is a z-list star who tried to flee with her covid-positive boyfriend back to the UK from Barbados and an American tennis star who flew to the UK from Russia after testing positive.

    I would argue this should have been done months ago but just because the UK has struggled does not make it non sensible to try and prevent further infection arriving when the health services are close to being overwhelmed.

  3. Should have said “to help protect against the new strain of coronavirus, such as those seen here in England”. Crikey!

  4. One less traveller who tests positive if another country before travelling to the U.K. is one possible less bed needed in case of severe symptoms. The NHS is on its knees so this is a good thing.

  5. I have had the vaccine, if you can show proof of vaccination do you still have to show a test result?

  6. Robert!
    There’s the $64,000 question. My guess: you’ll still need a negative test because they’ll reason that you indeed ‘have’ the virus, aren’t affected by it, but can still spread it.
    So, your vaccine protect only YOU and no one else.
    The only solution is tests before flying, forever, for everyone both in and out, and masks on planes forever.
    Plus of course social distancing, forever. Better get used to it.

  7. This will not come into force for another week. And it’s a forward-looking play. They obv hope to get numbers down considerably with their strict lockdown within two weeks or so.

    Basically, a test before departure is helpful, but insufficient. I think NYT quoted numbers that 45-50 per cent of infections are detected if the test is 24 hours before departure. Goes down to 33 per cent or so for 2 days before. It’s in the 20-30 per cent range if the test is 72h before.

    So requiring the pre-departure test plus a second test five days after arrival seems pretty close to a best practice to me.

    It’s also important to keep in mind that travellers (especially leisure travellers) have a different profile as to their contacts as a non-traveller. So a strict testing regime may still make some sense if incidence in the foreign country is somewhat lower than in the UK.

  8. I can some somehow understand the rationale, altough it basically means I can no longer travel, since a live in a country where PCR results take at least 72, mostly rather 96 hours by private labs … (and public hospitals don’t test for travel purposes). Perhaps I should change industry and set up a lab doing PCRs more quickly.

  9. With these new strains, it’s like the testing. The more you test for the strain, the more you find. In the UK every 15th positive test is then tested for the new strain. In Germany every 900th.

    For the new UK rules, better late than never and maybe stricter ones will still follow.

  10. Question to the hive mind:

    For those who’ve travelled lately, was there any degree of questioning as to the “validity” or “necessity” of your travel? This specifically applies to folks who do not have a passport for the destination. Example: A US passport-holder traveling to London with appropriate C19 testing complete and fully prepared to quarantine and re-test upon arrival.

  11. @Brian Crim presently a CR test only. No country currently accepts vaccine certification, however that’s expected to change in the future. The other issue is no one monitors quarantine. On arrival you are supposed to quarantine for 10 days. In South Korea they do. It’s a honour system although am sure the majority of people are honest.

    I also read that there would be exceptions from countries where it’s not easy to obtain tests. Moreover it’s England only ! If you fly via Amsterdam to Scotland you still require it since the Netherlands requires it. But potentially you can fly on some airlines via another point to Scotland or Wales and avoid the test , although it’s a tiny minority Then again if only takes one …

  12. I am completely ok with this rule. The thing I have a problem with is that no start date is given and no type of accepted tests are given. Next week doesn’t help me. I’m suppose to fly on Tuesday. Trying to figure things out.

  13. Why would a country not make you test and why wouldnt they make you test from a certain provider so they get the cut of the revenue generated by these 100-$200 tests. Its only a matter of time that you will have to “provide aka Pay” a new fee to travel. Forget the taxes on using miles in and out of LHR and other airports. They will charge you an extra $200 for a rapid test upon arrival even if you have proof of a negative test before hand…

  14. As far as mutant viruses go, one thing no one mentions is that as of the end of December, “out of the U.K.’s 2.1 million cases, the COVID-19 Genomics Consortium has sequenced 137,000 SARS-CoV-2 genomes total, which is about half of all those sequenced worldwide. Contrast that with the United States, which has sequenced only about 51,000 of its 18 million cases.” So basically, no other country is sequencing much, and if they are, they keep quiet. We know there have been hundreds of variants around the world, it just happens that the UK’s scientific community has invested a lot more in sequencing and are being upfront with their findings. It doesn’t mean that all mutants have a strong preference to the U.K. population!

  15. Bizarre. One could fly into CWL with no test and then carry on into England by train. Not much of a barrier.

  16. If they are really concerned they should do testing on arrival. A test from 3 days before doesn’t prove much. Once the vaccine is widely available only those who had the vaccine should be allowed to cross cross borders.

  17. Most British people will not be impacted by this at all – at least for now. We are currently in a national lockdown in England and international travel is generally prohibited.

    I personally think it is sensible to do this given the UK has just launched a national vaccination programme and there is currently a material concern about whether the vaccines are effective against mutated strains.

    In a country that has now recorded 80,000 + COVID related deaths, the success of the vaccination programme is very important.

  18. Did they forget that some (although small percentage right now) are vaccinated?

    Once vaccinated, those persons are no longer carriers and cannot become infected for a projected 3 years.

    I don’t mind masking up for optics, but an unnecessary PCR test isn’t cool. I hope they amend this to take into account the actual current state of things.

  19. Totally ok with it. They have seen a huge upswing of late. While they could have done more sooner, that doesn’t mean taking measures now to keep their populace safe is a bad thing. Many countries are learning as they go along. I can’t wait to get back to the UK, but I feel better traveling there knowing they are doing whatever they can to prevent the spread of the virus. It’s their country. They need to take care of their citizens…just as we need to here in the USA.

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