COVID-19: Travellers can shorten quarantine on arrival from subsequent month – however they will should pay for it | UK Information
Travelers coming to England from countries with high infection rates can cut their quarantine from 14 to five days if they test a negative coronavirus on the fifth day, according to the Department of Transportation.
Passengers must pay for the tests themselves and book with one of the private providers on the government’s list.
They cost between £ 65 and £ 120.
Authorities want the program, which comes into effect on December 15, to encourage travel without putting additional pressure on the NHS.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We have a plan to make sure that our way out of this pandemic is careful and balanced so that we can focus on what we can do now to strengthen international travel while keeping safety to ensure the public. “
“Our new testing strategy allows us to travel more freely, see loved ones and drive international business forward. By giving people the choice to test on day five, we are also helping the travel industry as it continues to build after the pandemic.”
Speaking to Sky News, Shapps said shortening the quarantine period was “a pretty complicated matter”.
He told Kay Burley, “Essentially, one has to balance medical skills, science, so to speak, with capacity that is available or not.”
Mr Shapps added, “We still wanted to make sure tests were available to doctors, nurses, teachers, and many others before reaching out to anyone traveling from overseas.
“We did that by reaching out to the private sector for these tests.”
Critics said the measure should have been implemented earlier to make travel easier during the summer break.
But those who make a living during the winter season, like Tom Staines, who owns a ski chalet in France, breathe a sigh of relief.
“This is great news for us,” he said.
“Shortening the quarantine from 14 to five days means our guests can leave. Many have stated that they can handle a short quarantine while they cannot handle 14 days.
“We hope that the lack of bookings since summer will change in the next few days, with some certainty about the ability to travel.”
However, some figures from the travel industry suggest that even a shorter quarantine is still a major barrier to travel.
Paul Charles, the executive director of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “This move will not be for everyone.
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“There are some people who find it easy to get quarantined on their return, but a lot of people can’t and may not be able to afford it, especially if they are a family of four it could cost hundreds of pounds they cost to get a private test after five days.
“But we have to see a gradual return to life before COVID, and this is the beginning of that road to normal.”
The government said a five-day test of self-isolation will ensure no COVID-19 cases are missed as it allows for the virus’s incubation period.
Airlines like BA and Virgin Atlantic want the government to do pre and post flight tests which they said could eliminate the need for quarantine altogether.
Shai Weiss, Managing Director of Virgin Atlantic said: “”The only way to fully reopen critical trade and travel links, support the UK’s economic recovery and protect more than 500,000 aviation-supported jobs is to switch to a robust pre-departure testing regime to quarantine as soon as possible possible to safely replace. “
Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas, went a step further, saying that travelers will need to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to board the airline’s flights.
Mr Joyce said the move would be a “necessity” when vaccines were available and that he thought it would be “a common thing” with airlines in the future.
However, in a sector where hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk, there is hope that testing five days after arriving in the UK could be the first step towards recovery.