HOLIDAYS without the need to get a coronavirus test may be on the cards for passengers travelling from countries which lack appropriate facilities.
Under new plans coming into force next week, people entering England and Scotland will have to get a Covid-19 test up to 72 hours before they travel and show their result was negative.
The rules – which apply to all passengers, including Brits coming back home and those visiting the UK – have been introduced in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Negative coronavirus certificates will be checked by airlines, train and ferry companies before people travel – and those who refuse will not be allowed to travel to Britain.
People travelling to England and Scotland without a negative coronavirus test could receive a £500 fine, with an additional £2,000 fine for any transgressors they bring to the UK.
Travellers from countries considered "high risk" in terms of coronavirus infections will not only have to show their Covid-19 test was negative, but will also need to quarantine on arrival.
However, some countries "without the infrastructure available to deliver" the test certificates before departure will be exempt from the rules, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said.
The Government has not specified which countries are exempt yet, but travel experts believe these could include popular travel destinations for Brits such as Jamaica, Barbados and Cuba in the Caribbean.
Other countries which may be exempt include nations in sub-Saharan Africa and islands such as the Maldives and Pacific Islands.
This could mean Brits visiting popular destinations such as Kuredu and Utheemu in the Maldives or islands such as Fiji and Bora Bora could not be asked to show a negative Covid-19 test before departure.
The Government's guidance says: "There will be a limited number of exemptions, including for hauliers, children under 11, crews and for those who travelling from countries without the infrastructure available to deliver the tests."
Passengers travelling from exempt countries would not need to show a negative Covid-19 test on arrival to the UK – but they will still need to quarantine if the nation they come from is on the red list.
Heathrow's chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, told The Telegraph that the rules would present a "real challenge" for those travelling from countries which do not have facilities to test a high number of people.
He also claimed that thousands of people would be stranded overseas owing to a lack of the necessary facilities in some countries.
Mr Holland-Kaye called on the Government to take the lead in creating a common international standard for testing to resolve confusing differences between nations.
He said Heathrow Airport had the capacity to test up to 25,000 people a day – for departing passengers to meet requirements in their destinations – but other world airports lacked such facilities.
Experts have also suggested the new rules may discourage people from travelling to the UK – as well as Brits from travelling abroad – because the cost of private coronavirus tests.
At the moment, under lockdown restrictions in England, people are barred from travelling abroad unless absolutely necessary for work.
Speaking to ITV earlier this week, Michael Gove hinted measures on "how we will make sure that our ports and airports are safe" will come into effect shortly.
He said: "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."
WHICH COUNTRIES MAY BE EXEMPT?
The Government has not published a list of countries which will be exempt from the new rules as they lack appropriate Covid-19 testing facilities.
However, travel experts have suggested the following destinations could be exempt:
Caribbean – for example, Barbados, Jamaica, Cuba
Maldives – destinations such as Kuredu and Utheemu
Pacific Islands – for instance, Fiji and Bora Bora
Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultants The PC Agency, said: "While inbound testing is vital to help reduce infection rates in the UK, many travellers overseas may find it hard to get test results in the 72 hours before their flight.
"Facilities are not yet designed for the demand.
"We need to see an end date for these restrictions so that consumers are not put off booking travel for future trips."
The Government is expected to unveil more details about the new travel rules in the coming days, but Mr Shapps suggested the regime would stay in place only until most of the UK population had been vaccinated.
Yesterday, the UK recorded its highest coronavirus death toll since the pandemic began after 1,325 people died within 28 days of a positive Covid test.
Public Health England said the number of deaths would "continue to rise until we stop the spread".
According to the latest data, another 68,053 coronavirus cases were recorded.
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