On January 8, 2021, the UK government announced a toughening of border restrictions and introduced a new entry requirement for travellers arriving in the UK.
Similar to the entry requirements Spain and Greece enforce, the majority of arrivals to the UK will need to provide proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen test taken less than 72 hours before departure, upon their arrival.
The new scheme will start on Friday 15 January from 4am and is expected to remain in place until the end of the current lockdown.
Officials have verified that British nationals will not be exempt from these rules. Although, children under the age of 11, lorry drivers, and flight, sea, and rail crew will however be exempt, as will those travelling from countries deemed to lack the infrastructure available to deliver the tests.
The price of a private PCR test varies from £80 – £300, whereas rapid antigen tests are generally a little cheaper ranging from £60 – £100 in the UK. Both tests will be at the travellers’ expense and holidaymakers will not be able to claim these costs back through their travel insurance.
It will be the responsibility of the airline, train or ferry operator to check all passengers certificates before boarding. And anyone who is required to provide a negative test result and fails to do so may be faced with a £500 fine.
However, a negative test result doesn’t mean you can avoid the necessary isolation period. Anyone arriving in the UK from a destination that is not on the government’s travel corridor list will still be required to isolate for 10 days, regardless of having a negative test result. In England, Brits will be able to reduce the isolation period if they can provide proof of a second negative Covid-19 test taken five days after their arrival.
Anyone who fails to isolate for the required duration will be liable to fines of up to £10,000.
Lastly, anyone who travels against the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office’s (FCDO) advice and receives a positive test result before their return to the UK will most likely not be covered by their travel insurer for any additional costs incurred as a result of having to isolate. For example, any unexpected food, flight, or accommodation costs.
However, once the travel ban has been lifted, it is worth knowing that some travel insurance providers do offer cover for a positive Covid-19 test result, that will cover unexpected costs should holidaymakers need to isolate and stay longer while abroad.