Transport Secretary Grant Shapps erupted at the Sky presenter insisting the testing measures had proved ineffective to curb the rate of coronavirus infection before. Mr Shapps however insisted the new requirement had been agreed to out of an abundance of caution due to rising concerns about the new strain of the virus originating in South Africa. All international passengers will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before they travel to England or Scotland.
Ms Joseph asked the Transport Secretary: “Why are you bringing this in now when the travel industry have been calling for this for months?
“They wanted something like this in place to alleviate the pressure that they’re under.”
Mr Shapps said: “This is clearly sensible because there’s a new variant and there are concerns about how effective the vaccine could be so we cannot take chances.
“But in terms of response to the coronavirus, the only really sure-fire way is to make sure people quarantine or isolate and, of course, we’ve had that in place for months.”
JUST IN: UK arrivals need to show proof of negative covid test or face fine
He added: “Look what happened in the United States, for example, where they did last March entirely closed the border.
“It hasn’t helped them at all, not one iota.”
The Transport Secretary also reiterated there were now concerns about how effective the vaccines will be against the highly transmissible variant of the coronavirus discovered in South Africa.
Mr Shapps said: “We already have significant measures in place to prevent imported cases of COVID-19, but with new strains of the virus developing internationally we must take further precautions.
Failure to comply with the new travel regulations in England, which apply to those arriving by plane, boat or train, will result in an immediate £500 fine.
Mr Shapps added that he believes Northern Ireland and Wales will follow similar measures by next week.
He explained: “I suspect it will be a UK-wide requirement from some point next week.”
The Transport Secretary also hit back at criticism that the UK Government should have closed the border completely, insisting the UK as an island needs the movement of goods and people.
There were a further 1,162 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were reported in the UK on Thursday – the second consecutive day of more than 1,000 recorded fatalities.
Despite the variant fears, a new laboratory study conducted by Pfizer found that its BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine appeared to work against a key mutation in the highly transmissible new variants of the coronavirus discovered in the UK and South Africa
While the study has yet to be peer-reviewed, the results found that the vaccine was effective in neutralizing the virus with the so-called N501Y mutation of the spike protein.