TRAVEL quarantine restrictions are set to be slashed from 14 days to five in a bid to get Brits flying again.
The change will come into force next week as travellers will be given speedy tests that produce results in as little as five minutes.
Under a ‘test and release’ scheme introduced next month, travellers will have to quarantine for five days before being tested.
Using the fast-turnaround tests, if they receive a negative test they will be allowed to leave isolation immediately.
The scheme could be the first step to dragging the aviation and travel sectors back from the brink of collapse.
The cruise industry is expected to make a phased restart in February.
A Whitehall source told The Daily Mail last night: “We are keen to get people flying again when it is safe to do so, and the Prime Minister is particularly concerned about the impact we have seen on business travel.
“Cutting the quarantine time from 14 days to five has the potential to make a huge difference.”
The government’s Global Travel Taskforce, which launched last month, recommended a seven-day quarantine period, which would mean travellers would be tested after five days and released two days later.
But MPs persuaded Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty that the increasing reliability of the fast tests meant there was no reason they shouldn’t be used.
It comes after a summer of rows between ministers and the travel industry sparked when the Government slapped 14-day quarantine periods on people coming back from dozens of countries – putting people off going away.
At the moment people aren’t able to travel – both inside or outside of the UK – during England’s second lockdown.
They risk a £200 fine if they are caught trying to escape to a get-away.
Unless returning from a small number of countries on the country’s quarantine-free travel corridor list, holidaymakers would have to self-isolate for 14 days or face a £1,000 fine.
One-hour Covid tests for holidaymakers leaving the UK have already launched at Heathrow, giving a boost to international air travel.
The tests are being rolled out for passengers who are travelling to countries that require a negative coronavirus test in order to avoid being quarantined.
The swab tests can cost more than £100 if bought privately, but the new tests are expected to fall for as little as £5 each as production is ramped up.
MPs have urged to have some form of quarantine to remain essential next year to avoid sparking a third-wave of the pandemic.
Summer officials estimated that 10 per cent of all new cases had been brought back to the country by holidaymakers.
Gatwick Airport is launching rapid coronavirus testing for passengers from November 30.
Travellers will be able to pay £60 to get a swab test, with group discounts being offered.
The airport explains: “We are pleased to announce the launch of a COVID19 screening centre located in the South Terminal Long Stay Car Park.
” Run by ExpressTest it will offer a fast and accurate PCR swab test and is available for both passengers, employees and the general public from 30 November.
“If you are flying from or are based at Gatwick Airport you can get a test for £60, and it will also be available for the general public at £99. A group discount is also available.”
Appointments open from November 27, with passengers warned to give between 48 and 96 hours notice before travelling.
Ministers are also expected to agree a package to allow the cruise industry to restart.
The industry, which is said to be worth £10billion to the UK economy, has been in suspended animation since July when the Foreign Office issued blanket advice against all cruise ship travel following a string of global Covid outbreaks.