Thousands of flights have arrived in the UK carrying passengers from all over the world this week, with most under no obligation to prove they have tested negative for Covid-19, and no formal requirement to self-isolate.
Hundreds of flights have touched down at UK airports every day this week, while the Government is thought to be working on a policy requiring arriving travellers to prove they have tested negative for the virus.
The Government has faced criticism for moving too slowly on the issue of international travel, and thousands of people have entered the UK via international flights in the few days that ministers have been discussing a new travel policy.
The vast majority of arrivals come into London Heathrow, which averages around 500 inbound flights per day.
The rates of infection in London and the South East of England are currently the highest in the country, and - according to one ‘best case scenario’ estimate - the capital could be “overwhelmed” by the virus within two weeks.
Several international flights are still arriving each day at many UK airports, including Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds Bradford and Doncaster.
What could the new restrictions on international arrivals look like?
The Government has attracted criticism throughout the pandemic for its reluctance to place restrictions on international travel, with former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt taking to Twitter on Monday (4 Jan) calling for all borders to be closed.
Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove said: “We are looking at further options to restrict international travel.”
While the policy is still yet to be finalised, it is expected that flights headed to the UK will be required to stop passengers flying unless they provide a negative Covid test within 72 hours of departure.
This will also apply to anyone entering the UK through a port, and will cover all countries, including those with travel corridors in effect.
It is also expected that travellers coming from so-called ‘red list’ countries with high Covid rates will need to quarantine on arrival even if they have tested negative, but will be able to leave upon testing negative a second time after at least five days in quarantine.