Passengers arriving into England will soon be able to reduce mandatory self-isolation by at least a week, as the government launches its new strategy for testing international arrivals.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that from December 15 2020, passengers arriving into England from countries not featured on the government’s travel corridor list will have the option to take a test after five days of self-isolation, with a negative result releasing them from the need to isolate.
Travelers who do not want to take the test, will be obliged to adhere to the current 14-day quarantine period on arrival.
The move will give passengers the confidence to book international trips in the knowledge that they can return home and isolate for a shorter period if they have received a negative test. With those opting in to the scheme having to book and pay for a coronavirus (COVID-19) test from a private provider on an approved list, the government is protecting the National Health Service Test and Trace program testing capacity.
Under the new strategy, passengers arriving into England by plane, ferry or train should book their test before they travel; must complete a passenger locator form; and will still need to self-isolate for five days before taking a test – rather than taking it at their port of arrival.
The testing strategy is one outcome of the government’s Global Travel Taskforce report recently presented to the Prime Minister, which also sets out a pathway to restarting the cruise sector.
The recommendations are based on advice from a consortium of expert representatives from the aviation, maritime, international rail, tourism and hospitality industries to boost international travel for all modes, whilst safeguarding public health in the U.K.
The government will also continue to work with international partners and representatives across the transport industries to further build on the recommendations in the report, including exploring pre-departure testing pilots with partner countries on a bilateral basis.
The ‘Test to Release’ scheme is announced as the government introduces new financial support for English airports and ground handlers serving them. This support, which will shore up jobs and reinforce local economies, will be available to commercial airports in England. The support will address fixed costs and be equivalent to the business rates liabilities of each business, capped at up to £8 million per site, and subject to certain conditions. This scheme will open in the new year.