UK to toughen COVID-19 border controls soon, says Gove

Cabinet minister Michael Gove has confirmed that the government is preparing new border controls for travellers entering England.

Speaking to ITV, he said: “We will be making announcements later today and in the days ahead about how we will make sure that our ports and airports are safe.

“It is already the case that there are significant restrictions on people coming into this country and of course we’re stressing that nobody should be travelling abroad.”

The FT reported that new rules would be unveiled later this week requiring anyone travelling into the country to receive a negative Covid-19 test no more than 72 hours before their journey.

Gove said that he did not wish to pre-empt the specific proposals that the government would put in place.

The new rules will come after a system was introduced last month that allows passengers to shorten their self-isolation by taking a coronavirus test.

The so-called Test and Release system enables visitors from countries not included on the travel corridor list to take a private test after five days and leave isolation if a negative result is returned.

The tightening of rules, which comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson plunged the country into a third national lockdown, follows criticism of the lack of screening of international arrivals.

But it will spark fresh troubles for the travel sector, which has been battered by a steep drop in passenger numbers during the pandemic.

This was compounded last month when the EU introduced a ban on UK nationals travelling to the bloc for non-essential purposes.

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, described the fresh lockdown restrictions as a “devastating blow” and urged the government to introduce fresh support measures for the sector.

“This must include covering operational losses during the current heightened restrictions and extending all existing forms of support until aviation is able to operate free from the barriers that have prevented any meaningful recovery to date,” she said.

While ministers are tightening rules around travel, they stopped short of banning travel altogether.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has urged the prime minister to close Britain’s borders to prevent new strains of the virus from being imported.

Source: City AM