UK to require arrivals from Estonia to test COVID-19-negative from Monday

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Flags of the U.K and Estonia. Source: Ministry of Defense.

Arrivals from Estonia to England will have to pass negative on a coronavirus test and provide proof of their result from the morning of Monday, January 18, that country's foreign office says.

The development mirrors a requirement put in place by Estonia's foreign ministry at the end of 2020 following reports of a particularly potent strain of the virus spreading in the U.K., which requires arrivals from that country to return negative on a coronavirus test within 72 hours of arrival, as well as quarantine for 14 days rather than the usual 10 applied to travelers from most other states.

The new U.K. regulations, which cover all international arrivals to England – other countries making up the U.K. have their own regulations – commence at 4 a.m. U.K. time (6 a.m. in Estonia) on Friday, January 15, but with a period of grace until the same time on Monday, January 18, when they enter into force, the Foreign Office says.

International arrivals must take a test no earlier than 72 hours (three days) before arrival, regardless of their means of transport, and provide evidence of their negative test.

Failure to do so can result in an on-the-spot fine of at least £500 (approximately €560) for travelers, as well as fines for operators transporting non-compliant passengers.

Children under 11 are exempt from the regulations, as well as a few key workers involved in freight transport and other vital services.

Estonia is not on the list of travel corridor states who may be exempt for self-quarantining on arrival in the U.K., meaning arrivals from Estonia will have to self-quarantine for that period of time, and will also be required both to fill in a passenger locator form and adhere to national lockdown restrictions.

The move has been issued in response to new strains of COVID-19 identified in Denmark, South Africa and elsewhere, U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.

The U.K. has introduced a new national lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week.

Those who test negative can apply to reduce their self-isolation period from 10 to five days via the U.K. government's Test to Release scheme.

More information is available here and here.

The Estonian government opted to issue a total flight ban to and from the U.K. in the second half of December, though this has been lifted.

This article was updated to include information on the grace period between the U.K. restrictions starting on Friday, and entering into force the following Monday.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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