Arrivals to the UK can spend up to £ 120 on a private Covid test and cut their quarantine time to just five days under a new government program.
From December 15, the “test to release” plan will allow arrivals from high-risk destinations to undergo a private coronavirus test after a five-day self-isolation period.
If the test is negative, they will be free to lead their normal lives more than a week earlier than the current 14-day system allows.
Passengers will have to pay for a test from a government-approved private medical company to avoid straining NHS resources.
As part of a new “test to release” program, people traveling from high-risk destinations will be able to take a private test after five days of self-isolation. Pictured: A flight attendant prepares to hold the safety briefing for passengers while wearing PPE
The tests are initially expected to cost between £ 65 and £ 120 per passenger, meaning it could cost a family of four an additional £ 480 to get tested after their holiday.
However, the cost of post-travel testing is expected to drop significantly as production ramps up next year – potentially down to £ 5.
Travel experts hope the new program will trigger a surge in bookings during the busy Christmas season, though bosses at British Airways and Virgin Atlantic believe even a five-day quarantine will continue to hamper demand.
The new regime will apply to travelers arriving in England from all countries on the government’s “red” list, whose arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days.
A list of authorized testing providers will be released by the Department of Transportation next month.
Last night, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that the list of approved providers will include companies offering rapid tests that produce results in as little as 30 minutes.
NHS-style PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests take between 24 and 48 hours to produce a result, but travel leaders have pressured ministers to approve faster tests.
In a further boost for the crippled aviation industry, Mr Shapps has pledged a new financial support package capped at £ 8million per airport.
If people are tested negative, they will be free to lead their normal lives more than a week earlier than the current 14-day system allows. Pictured: Heathrow Airport
Pictured: The new coronavirus testing facility inside the Terminal 2 building at Heathrow Airport
The funding will be released next year, when ministers also prepare to approve a plan to revive the cruise industry.
This could allow shipping to resume by the summer, provided operators agree to take full responsibility for the repatriation of passengers and crew if they are stranded following an outbreak.
The changes represent a major victory for Mail’s campaign – launched in September – to save the travel and aviation industries.
The global government travel task force, which was launched last month, has looked at options for a shorter quarantine. The schedule was agreed after experts confirmed that a test on day 5 would identify the majority of infections.
Travel abroad is currently banned except for work or emergencies, but that will end for many when the lockdown is relaxed on December 2.
Travel ban lifted – just in time for a festive getaway
The ban on international and domestic travel will be lifted next week so that holidaymakers can get away from it all before Christmas.
But there is a caveat that travel will be “subject to advice at every level” – and the government still advises against traveling when possible.
Hotels and other accommodation providers such as Airbnb will be able to open in Level 1 and 2 zones.
At level three, they will be closed with a few exceptions, such as for workers.
Overnight stays will be allowed at level one as long as visitors stay in their family group, in a supportive bubble or in a group of up to six people.
At level two, overnight stays will be authorized within households and will support the bubbles, but will be prohibited at level three.
Travel to second homes will be permitted but limited to the same local area if you are at level three.
The need to stop the coronavirus from spreading around the world has struck a hammer on our aviation industry, writes Transport Secretary GRANT SHAPPS
Among the many consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic is its devastating impact on civil aviation.
Deserted airports, inactive airliners parked by the hundreds, thousands of skilled workers on leave – nothing like this has been experienced in the history of modern mass air transport.
The need to prevent the virus from spreading freely around the world has dealt a hammer blow to the UK aviation industry, a sector which in normal years contributes around £ 14 billion to the economy and directly employs 130,000 people.
Aviation is a British achievement, and we need to get it back in the air.
Test to Release is a brilliant development that marks a milestone on the road to recovery, writes Grant Shapps
Upcoming vaccines offer hope for a solution to the pandemic. But we’re going to be living with the virus for months to come, and aviation needs its own kick in the arm now.
Thus, the Test to Release program is a brilliant development, which, while not solving all of our problems, marks an important step on the road to recovery.
The restrictions introduced this summer mean that for travelers returning to the UK from most major destinations, a two-week self-isolation period is currently required.
Test to Release, which allows travelers to self-isolate if they test negative on a Covid test taken at least five days after arrival, is a game-changer.
It can reduce the quarantine period by up to two-thirds and, because it is based on a single test, is affordable. Also, as we insist on using the private test network, it will not burden the testing and the NHS trace. Doctors, nurses and teachers – these vital workers must first draw on public resources.
I know how frustrating the wait for traveler testing has been for an industry in crisis. One of the reasons I applied for the transportation job in this government was my own passion for aviation, and it was painful to watch this great sector bleed out of money and jobs.
But the truth is, there was no easy solution to the problem. Throughout the summer, experts warned me that a single test on arrival at the terminal would detect only a tiny proportion of infected people.
France and Germany tried the tests on the day they arrived but had to abandon them as the imported cases increased. Only self-isolation has helped keep the lid on Covid.
Now we have a private testing capability which allows us to offer Test to Release as a viable option for business travelers and tourists.
Passenger wears mask upon arrival at Heathrow Airport amid coronavirus pandemic
By testing on the fifth day, we can detect the vast majority of infections. The shorter self-isolation period means that overall the system will be just as effective.
Our ability to safely cut so many days of self-isolation is thanks to government working hand in hand with the private sector. There are tough months ahead for international travel, but airlines and ports can now look to the future with more optimism.
And there are even more reasons for this optimism. We are offering a new offer of financial support to British airports and the ground service agents that serve them, to consolidate jobs and strengthen local economies.
Opening into the new year, this package will boost our airports as we look forward to a bright future in 2021.
Test to Release will help bridge the gap between the virtual paralysis plaguing aviation deep in the pandemic and a gradual return to normalcy next year.
More of us will be able to fly through the air to visit the people and places we love. Or do business to help our nation recover. It’s not over yet, but there is a blue sky opening up.