New measures at the UK’s borders to restrict the spread of coronavirus and new variants through imported cases are set to be announced in the coming days, home secretary Priti Patel has confirmed.
It comes after prime minister Boris Johnson hinted at tougher measures during a Covid briefing on Tuesday (5 January), including the potential for a pre-travel testing requirement for inbound travellers.
Speaking to Nick Robinson on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday (7 January), Patel said further action was imminent, pending an ongoing government review of the UK’s current border measures.
"Those reviews are taking place right now across government, and you will hear very shortly some of the changes government will be proposing around measures at the border," said Patel.
Pressed on whether this would amount to a ban on non-essential travel, Patel said under England’s new Covid lockdown measures and those in the UK’s devolved administrations, international travel should already only be taking place where permitted under the "very strict" regulations.
Seeking further clarity, Robinson said: "It seems to me clear you’re signalling the idea people can come and go out of airports without being tested, without being checked, without being challenged, [that] those days are over – are they?"
Patel said the government had taken measures at the border already such as introducing quarantine and placing a travel ban on Denmark when a new Covid variant was found to be spreading in the country’s mink farms.
"We’re in a lockdown, and people should not be travelling abroad unless for very, very restricted and limited reasons," said Patel.
"You’ve already heard me say the government is reviewing measures at the borders, and there will be further announcements on this from the Department for Transport in the next few days.
"There is work under way on this. And do not forget, again, we’ve had the programme of quarantining and also the issue of travel corridors and restrictions around travel corridors too.
"So our measures have always been under review when it comes to health measures at the border and also restricted measures on international travel – and that will continue."