A view of the signage leading to one of the test centers at Heathrow Airport in London on December 22nd. Joseph Okpako / Getty Images

The UK introduced mandatory Covid-19 testing for all international arrivals in the country, including UK nationals, on Friday, according to a statement from the UK Department of Transport.

In the statement, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes would take place “next week”. Passengers must present a negative Covid-19 test result for entry into the UK 72 hours prior to departure, along with a “Passenger Location Form”.

Passengers who fail to take the pre-departure tests will be fined £ 500 (US $ 680). Arrivals not from countries not on the government’s travel corridor list will need to self-isolate for another 10 days regardless of the test result.

The measures are intended to protect the country from new variants of the corona virus.

A new variant, first identified in the UK, sparked a wave of travel restrictions from other countries in December and has been linked to a recent surge in cases in England.

Travel ban: The British government announced on Thursday that it would extend its travel ban to South African countries to protect itself from the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus.

In a statement, the government said it would ban entry to England from countries such as Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Lesotho, Mozambique, the Seychelles and Mauritius from 4 a.m. GMT on Saturday, January 9.

“The government has reacted quickly to new findings showing that there is an urgent need to stop travel from all South African countries to prevent the spread of a new variant of coronavirus (COVID-19) identified in South Africa,” the statement said.

The ban does not apply to UK and Irish nationals, long-term visa holders or permanent residents who are allowed to enter but are required to self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival.

The restriction contributes to an ongoing travel ban for visitors who have been to or have traveled through South Africa in the last 10 days.