Border chaos as Government ‘is forced to DELAY demanding passengers test negative before entering UK until Monday’ amid backlash from travel industry over type of tests used
- Government planning to enforce regime requiring tests 72 hours pre-departure
- Meant to come into force 4am Friday but there will be a weekend grace period
- Passengers booked on long-haul flights have been scrabbling to find tests
Ministers will allow UK arrivals without a negative Covid test into the country this weekend after their plan for tighter border controls sparked passenger panic.
The Government was preparing to enforce the stricter regime requiring tests 72 hours pre-departure from 4am on Friday.
But it is now understood the date will be pushed back until next week to calm growing confusion over the rules among passengers and airlines.
Passengers booked on long-haul flights have been scrabbling to find tests and fear they face £500 fines if unable to access one.
The confusion was blamed on a lack of clarity from the Department for Transport, which has not fleshed out the finer details of the policy.
Ministers will allow UK arrivals without a negative a Covid test into the country this weekend after their plan for tighter border controls sparked passenger panic. Pictured: Heathrow airport today
The Government was preparing to enforce a stricter regime requiring tests 72 hours pre-departure for all arrivals from 4am on Friday
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he would be detailing the the specifics, such as the type of tests required, but is yet to do so.
Government sources told the Daily Telegraph there is to be a grace period over the weekend whereby fines for arrivals without tests will be waived.
Mr Shapps was expected to make an announcement on Wednesday night announcing the delay.
Paul Charles, chief executive of the travel consultancy, The PC Agency, told the newspaper: ‘There’s no way they should be fining people coming in on Friday morning if they have been unaware of the rules at this stage.’
Airlines are also liable for up to £2,000 penalties per passenger if they fail to enforce the law.
The DfT was due to make clear the type of test passengers were required to take before travelling to the UK.
Passengers from Dubai enter the UK border at Heathrow airport today
The gold standard PCR tests are the most accurate, but cost up to £180, leaving many wondering if they would be allowed to cross the border with the cheaper lateral flow rapid-results swabs.
It came as Boris Johnson was grilled today on measures being put in place to insulate the UK from a new Brazilian strain of coronavirus.
Home Affairs Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper subjected the Prime Minister to intense questioning over border measures saying the nation could have ‘stronger quarantine and stronger checks like very many other countries do’.
‘We were warned about the Brazil variant three days ago, we don’t know yet whether that will potentially undermine the vaccination programme so why aren’t you taking immediate action on a precautionary basis?’ she asked.
Mr Johnson replied: ‘Well we are and we’re putting in extra measures to ensure that people coming from Brazil are checked and indeed stopping people coming from Brazil.’
Ms Cooper asked: ‘Are you, that’s a new announcement?’
‘No sorry I said what we were looking at was the question of whether or not the Brazilian variant is immune resistant,’ he said.
Pressed on whether this means a new travel ban being imposed on Brazil, he said: ‘We are taking steps to ensure that we do not see the import of this new variant from Brazil.’
Ms Cooper repeatedly pressed on what those steps exactly are, to which Mr Johnson cited the incoming plans for negative tests before departure being needed.
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