BRITS going on a winter getaway will only have to quarantine for five days and can be “released” from self-isolation after taking a quick one hour test.
Boris Johnson yesterday gave the go-ahead for a new “test and release” scheme which will see passengers tested for the deadly virus and allowed to continue their normal lives once getting the all clear.
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The tests will be done privately, with passengers expected to pay between £65 and £125, although many airlines and travel firms have said they will cover the costs, with the price expected to drop over time.
It will kick in on December 15 and allow people to return from high risk ‘red’ countries without having to self-isolate for 14 days.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed this morning: “We’re cutting the self-isolation period by two thirds from 15 DECEMBER for passengers arriving into England.
“Taking a privately provided Covid test on day five & receiving a negative result will end self-isolation.
“Our new testing strategy will allow us to travel more freely to see loved ones again and to drive international business.
“The introduction of this programme has only been made possible with the evolution of the science and understanding of this virus.
“We’ve taken the time to put the right system in place, ensuring we keep the British public safe.
‘TRAVEL MORE FREELY’
“We’re also supporting the recovery of domestic aviation, providing a new funding package – up to £8m per airport – for commercial English airports.
“This will support vital businesses, shore up jobs and reinforce critical, local economies, helping to level up the country.”
Mr Shapps told The Sun yesterday that the regime had been “one of the most complex pieces of policies I have worked on.”
All destinations will be covered under the new scheme, and a test does not need to be booked in advance of travel.
The new system is flexible enough, so that you can book the test from around 20 private clinics, with a range of tests available.
Mr Shapps added: “We’re not specifying the type of test, just the standard of the test.
“That means it leaves the way open for fast results and all those things will become much more possible.”
He added: “By giving people the choice to test on day five, we are also supporting the travel industry as it continues to rebuild out of the pandemic.”
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “Ensuring that safe travel is possible has been a priority for the Global Travel Taskforce.
“This test on day five of the 14-day self-isolation period will identify positive coronavirus cases and allow those who test negative to return to work and see their loved ones while abiding by domestic coronavirus restrictions.
“This will be done at the cost of the traveller to protect the capacity of NHS Test and Trace and ensure that any UK resident who has symptoms is able to get a test.”
It comes as Chancellor Rishi Sunak signed off a £100m bailout package for airports struggling in the pandemic.
Last night Tory MPs welcomed the new move, with Henry Smith MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Future of Aviation said: “It will allow the restart of commercial air travel with confidence once restrictions are lifted.
“It also provides much needed clarity and certainty which will be essential to these sectors’ recovery from the deeply damaging effects of this pandemic.”
Airport Operators Association Chief Executive Karen Dee added: “A robust test-and-release system will boost the safe restart of international travel, increase consumer confidence and pave the way towards an open Global Britain.”
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