Lorry drivers arriving in England from outside Britain and Ireland for more than two days will need to take COVID-19 tests in a bid to tackle the spread of any future variants, transport minister Grant Shapps said on Sunday.
Affected hauliers will need to take a test within 48 hours and one every 72 hours thereafter as part of the new rules.
"This is to ensure we keep track of any future coronavirus variants of concern," Shapps wrote on Twitter.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested earlier this week that Britain might need to tighten restrictions on arrivals from France, including truck drivers.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
A similar move by France in December caused chaos in southern England when it was introduced at short notice but the industry believes there is now enough rapid testing available for it not to cause too much of an impact, a source told Reuters on Friday.
Britain has banned foreign travel until at least May 17, although essential workers such as truck drivers have been allowed to cross borders to supply the country's food stores and manufacturing plants.
The government is soon to face a major decision over whether and when to allow summer holidays.
The Sunday Times reported that overseas vacations would be unlikely until August, whilst The Sun newspaper said ministers were considering a three-tier traffic light system alongside the use of vaccine passports and testing to unlock trips.
On Sunday, culture minister Oliver Dowden said a number of factors were being considered and that a taskforce would report at the beginning of April amid rising infections on parts of the continent."The situation in the rest of Europe is very worrying," he told Times Radio. "We need to ensure that if there is international travel, it's done in a safe way."