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Holidaymakers told to take Covid test before returning to England– but not when or how

Travellers will have to have a negative Covid test before returning home from next week, the Government confirmed this morning. But it still hasn’t said when the new rule will come into force or what type of test they’ll have to take.

A notice on the Department for Transport website says anyone arriving in the UK will also still have to self-isolate for up to 10 days if coming from a country with a high number of coronavirus cases that isn’t on the UK Government’s list of exempt destinations.

It says everyone from the age of 11 coming into the UK, including UK nationals, must have a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours before boarding a plane, train or ferry for England ‘from next week’.

While it hasn’t yet said what type of test travellers must take, it is likely to be a PCR test, which generally means waiting around 24 hours for the results.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told BBC Breakfast that the new controls are to help protect the UK against the new strains of coronavirus, identified in countries such as South Africa, which are ‘causing great concern with the scientists’.

“They’re not sure whether for example the vaccine will be able to deal with it in the first place, and we’re very, very keen to keep it out,” he said.

Those who do not comply with the new testing rules will face a fine of £500, with Border Force officials carrying out spot checks.

Only hauliers, children under 11 and those coming from Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man will be exempt.

Passengers will also have to fill in a Passenger Locator Form and obey the national lockdown rules.

The new rules announced will only apply to England but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to introduce similar measures.

In a further attempt to control the spread of the new variants of the virus first detected in South Africa, the UK Government has banned arrivals from several countries in southern Africa and the Indian Ocean, including Mauritius and the Seychelles, from Saturday.

Linsey McNeill

A journalist and travel writer of 35 years' standing, a once-a-week yogi, terrible skier and out-of-order mum to 2 teens. Previously Editor of, bylines also include The Telegraph, The Times, The Observer, the London Evening Standard, Which? and The South China Morning Post.

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