NIGERIANS travelling into the UK will now face severe restrictions after the British government introduced a series of stringent measures aimed at controlling the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Under new laws that come into effect on Friday January 15, anyone arriving in England by boat, train or plane will have to take a coronavirus test up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure. Passengers will also need to provide proof of a negative result to their travel operator upon boarding while the UK Border Force will be conducting spot checks on arrivals.
Those who flout the new rules will face an immediate fine of a minimum £500, while the operator who transported them will also be fined. British nationals who are attempting to return to England and end up testing positive before departure, must not travel and must remain in their current destination while following the local guidance in their host country.
Robert Courts, the UK transport minister, said passengers will still have to quarantine for 10 days regardless of their test results. He added that travellers will have to take an internationally approved test and guidance on what was acceptable would be made available to passengers and carriers.
Mr Courts said: “If a passenger arrives in England without a pre-departure negative test result they will be fined. We will amend the International Travel Regulations so that fines, starting at £500, can be levied on non-compliant passengers. We will keep test standards and innovative testing technologies under review.”
These new rules apply to almost every country in the world, including those on England’s travel corridor list and further compliance checks are due to be conducted by Border Force staff. Passengers travelling to England from other UK countries, as well as the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, will not be covered by the new regulations.
Children under 11 travelling from any country are also exempt from pre-departure testing. Mr Court added that there would also be a limited number of exemptions for people like hauliers, air, international rail and maritime crew to allow the free flow of freight.
Those arriving from three overseas territories St Helena, Ascension Island and the Falklands will be exempt due to lack of testing infrastructure. Passengers from Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia and Barbados will be exempt until 4am on January 21, again due to lack of testing infrastructure in those countries.
Mr Courts added: “Measures are likely to be in place until the end of the current lockdown, although a review will take place before the end of that period. With the addition of pre-departure testing requirements, our already robust system to protect against imported cases of coronavirus is further strengthened and will provide the greatest overall protection against the risk of transmission during travel to England and after arrival.”
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are expected to announce their own plans for pre-arrival testing over the coming days. Mass vaccination has already begun across the UK with the aim of controlling the pandemic that will allow the government to ease the lockdown.