A new Global Travel Taskforce to support the travel industry and the safe recovery of international travel has been launched by the U.K. government.
The Department for Transport and the Department of Health and Social Care have been working with clinicians, health experts and the private testing sector on the practicalities of testing international arrivals.
The next step is to develop an operationalized approach, which is why the government is creating the taskforce to work at pace with industry on implementation and to identify options to reduce the self-isolation period while protecting public health.
The taskforce will accelerate work to inform proposals on a future testing regime and develop options for how this could be introduced. This will include looking at the feasibility of proposals based on a single test taken after a period of self-isolation, provided by the private sector and at the cost of the passenger. The taskforce will work with medical experts to better understand when a test should be taken based on the progression of the disease. The taskforce will also work closely with the private testing sector to ensure that testing for international arrivals does not impact on NHS (National Health Service) capacity.
It will also explore alternative testing models, including pilots with partner countries to ascertain whether self-isolation could be undertaken pre-departure.
The taskforce, which will be jointly chaired by the Secretaries of State for Transport and Health and Social Care, will also consider other options to boost safe and sustainable tourism and business travel, supporting the sector in its recovery from the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said new scientific evidence means the government can intensify efforts to develop options for a testing regime and help reinvigorate the travel sector.
The taskforce is expected to put forward their initial recommendations next month.
The taskforce will consider how a testing regime for international arrivals could be implemented to boost safe travel to and from the U.K. as well as what steps can be taken to facilitate business and tourist travel through innovative testing models and other non-testing means. More broadly, it will also look at what steps can be taken to increase consumer confidence to support the recovery of international travel.