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Plans for coronavirus testing for arrivals at UK airports could pave the way for easier travel in what remains of 2020, and beyond into 2021.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has proposed the creation of a task force to assess how an airport testing system could work effectively in the UK.
The move could see the quarantine period for tourists reduced from 14 days, although travellers will have to front the cost of testing to avoid impacting NHS capacity.
Should such an approach be used, the UK would join around 30 other counties, including France, Germany and Dubai, where some sort of testing is administered at airports for arrivals.
The news is a major boost for airlines and for travellers keen to head off for some winter sun, as even those visiting countries deemed to be ‘high-risk’ could still reduce the quarantine time needed upon their return by taking a test.
Numerous European countries have been removed from isolation exemption lists in recent weeks after case numbers there have soared, meaning travellers to any of those locations must self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.
This makes travel difficult for many who can ill-afford to take prolonged periods away from work, although the latest plans could provide a boost to ski and other winter holiday destinations.
According to a September survey by Test4Travel, more than half of the Brits questioned said they would cover the costs of testing if it meant less disruption to their lives either side of travel.
Many cited the added confidence and reassurance that testing would provide, especially if done before travel too, as those individuals would be able to travel safe in the knowledge that they and everyone around them had provided a negative test outcome.
Testing trials for flights between New York and London are set to assess the practicalities of the system, with that particular route running far below its regular capacity.
While it may take several weeks to set up testing procedures, it is thought that passengers will need to take two tests – one on arrival and another less than a week later, with two negative results meaning they would no longer need to quarantine.
Alternatively, the government might make it a requirement for arrivals to have a test after five to eight days of being back in the UK, again with a negative result removing the need to continue self-isolating.
However, concerns that single tests may not detect coronavirus among asymptomatic travellers could make being tested twice a necessity.
Date Created: 08/10/2020