ALL travellers to England and Scotland from international destinations will have to test negative for coronavirus before they can enter the country, it has been announced.

Under plans set out by Transport Secretary Michael Matheson, passengers travelling to Scotland from abroad, including UK nationals, will need proof of a negative test taken a maximum of 72 hours before travel.

Under plans set out by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, from next week passengers arriving in England by boat, train or plane – including UK nationals – will have to take a test up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure.

Similar plans have been announced by the Westminster Government. Officials are said to be working closely with the Wales and Northern Ireland on adopting the measures there. 

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Under the new rules, passengers will need to present proof of a negative test result to their carrier on boarding while Border Force will conduct spot checks on arrivals.

All passengers arriving from countries not on the Scottish Government’s travel corridor list will still be required to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their test result.

The move follows the decision to suspend all direct travel from South Africa following the emergence there of a new strain of coronavirus thought potentially to be even more virulent than the mutant variant which has led cases to surge in the UK.



The announcement comes at a time when the latest lockdown restrictions across the four nations of the UK mean there is very little international travel.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said that non-essential travel in and out of Scotland is illegal and that will remain the case. 

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He went on: “The Scottish Government has been consistently clear about the risks associated with international travel and the importance of public health measures in helping to stop the spread of coronavirus.

"That is why we have been in regular dialogue with the UK Government and the other devolved administrations about what further measures can be put in place, including the introduction of pre-departure testing (PDT)."

Matheson added: “The requirement for pre-departure testing will add to our suite of public health measures as we seek to help drive down transmission of the virus to safeguard health, protect the NHS and save lives. 

“It is important to emphasise that this additional measure does not remove the requirement for all passengers arriving from countries not on the quarantine exemption list to self-isolate for 10 days, even with a negative test."

READ MORE: Government to require people entering UK to show a negative Covid-19 test result

Matheson said there are still some outstanding issues to addressed but "we are keen to implement this as soon as it is possible".

The airline industry – which has been devastated by the pandemic – acknowledged the need for the new restrictions but urged ministers across the UK to lift them as quickly as possible.

Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of the industry body Airlines UK, said: “This should be a short-term, emergency measure only and once the rollout of the vaccine accelerates, the focus must be on returning travel to normal as quickly as possible in order to support the UK’s economic recovery.”