“hammer blow” to the travel industry as pre-departure tests return – .

“hammer blow” to the travel industry as pre-departure tests return – .

ITV News correspondent Lewis Warner shares uncertainty over changing travel rules that will cause further financial damage to the already besieged airline industry

The travel industry has called changes to the travel testing rules a “hammer blow” to the industry, after the government announced all passengers arriving in the UK will be required to pass a Covid pre-departure test amid fears over the spread of the Omicron variant.

Ministers said it was a temporary measure following new data showing an increase in the number of cases of the new strain linked to overseas travel.

The move, which will be introduced from 4 a.m. on Tuesday, has been welcomed by Labor, which is pushing for the return of pre-departure testing since the variant was first identified in South Africa.

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This means that passengers traveling to the UK will have to take a PCR test or a lateral flow test up to a maximum of 48 hours before their departure, regardless of their vaccination status.

But the party criticized the government for not having acted sooner.

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It came as the latest figures from the UK Health Security Agency (HSA) showed on Sunday that 86 more cases of the Omicron variant had been reported across the UK, bringing the total to 246 so far.

The travel industry said the return of pre-departure testing was another ‘hammer blow’ for an industry that was just starting to recover from the ravages of the pandemic.

Clive Wratten, chief executive of the Business Travel Association, said this directly contradicted assurances given by Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps just days ago and called on the government to step in and support the industry.

“The introduction of pre-departure testing with little warning is a hammer blow to the business travel industry,” he said.

“Public safety is a priority, but businesses will fail, travelers will be stranded and livelihoods devastated by the lack of coherent government plans. “

Mr. Shapps had said Telegraph’s Chopper political podcast Thursday that the introduction of pre-departure Covid testing “would kill the travel industry without knowing you need it.”

He added: “This government thinks we should adopt a calibrated response, which does not take us back to the beginning of this [pandemic] …

“I believe in transportation and I don’t want to see a world where we always find excuses to restrict it. Of course, you have to react responsibly. That’s what I think we did. “

From Tuesday, those traveling to the UK will have to take a PCR test or side flow test before they leave. Credit: Pennsylvania

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of industry body Airlines UK, said the rapidly evolving measures made planning impossible.

“It is premature to reach millions of passengers and industry before seeing the full data. We don’t have clinical evidence, ”he said.

“These measures must be lifted as quickly as possible depending on the pace of the recovery program. “

Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said pre-departure testing was a “major deterrent to travel.”

“Most of the limited remaining demand after the reintroduction of self-isolation will now disappear, just as airports were hoping for a small increase over the Christmas holidays,” she said.

Professor Mark Woolhouse, who is a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modeling (Spi-M), told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that the Omicron variant was spreading rapidly in the UK and he warned that it could replace Delta “entirely around the world”.

The government’s science adviser said vaccines would still be “very, very good” against the Omicron variant, but said it was “too late” to make a “material difference” in a potential spate of Omicron cases.

Asked about the new travel rules, he added: “I think maybe it’s about closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

“If Omicron is here in the UK, and it certainly is, if there is community transmission in the UK, and it certainly looks like this, then it’s that community transmission that will drive a next wave. .

“The cases that are imported are important, we want to detect them and isolate any positive cases that we find, as we would any case anywhere.

“But I think it’s too late to make a significant difference in the course of the Omicron wave if we’re going to have one. “

Health Secretary Sajid Javid announces tightening of travel restrictions as Omicron cases continue to rise

The new measures for England were announced on Saturday evening by Health Secretary Sajid Javid and were immediately followed by the Scottish and Welsh governments.

“We have always said we would act quickly if we needed it if changing data demanded it,” Mr. Javid said.

“These are temporary measures that we want to remove as soon as possible, but before we know more about Omicron, it is only right that we have these measures in place. “

Phantom Home Secretary Yvette Cooper welcomed the ‘U-turn’ after ministers previously resisted calls to reintroduce pre-departure testing but said they should have moved sooner.

“We badly need them to learn the lessons of the importance of acting quickly on Covid border measures rather than having to be under enormous pressure every time to finally act,” she said.

The Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC) said it acted in part because this new analysis from the UK Health and Safety Agency (HSA) suggested the window between infection and contagiousness could be shorter for the Omicron variant.

He said this increased the efficiency of pre-departure testing, which would make it more likely that positive cases could be identified before travel.

In another move, the government said Nigeria was added to the travel red list after 21 cases of the Omicron variant in England were linked to travel from the West African nation.

From 4 a.m. on Monday, only UK and Irish nationals and residents from Nigeria will be allowed into the country and will be required to self-isolate in a government-run quarantine hotel.


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