The UK Government has launched a new strategy for testing international arrivals, which will reduce their mandatory self-isolation period by at least a week.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that the new regime will be in place from 15 December.
It will give passengers arriving from countries that are not on the government’s travel corridor list the option to take a test after five days of self-isolation. If they then receive a negative result, they may stop isolating.
Under the ‘Test to release for international travel’ strategy, passengers arriving either by plane, ferry or train will have to book their test before arriving.
Passengers will also need to complete a passenger locator form. They will be required to self-isolate for five days before taking the test.
The government has considered the evidence that shows a test after five days of self-isolation provides better results than taking a test on arrival.
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Shapps said: “We have a plan in place to ensure that our route out of this pandemic is careful and balanced, allowing us to focus on what we can now do to bolster international travel while keeping the public safe.
“Our new testing strategy will allow us to travel more freely, see loved ones and drive international business. 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.”
This scheme comes as the UK Government announces additional financial support for struggling airports and ground handlers in England.
The support will be available to commercial airports, will address fixed costs and be equivalent to the business rates liabilities of each business.
Capped at up to £8m per site and subject to certain conditions, the scheme will open in 2021.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “The aviation industry is vital to our economy, creating jobs and driving growth, which is why we have supported them throughout this crisis through the job retention scheme, loans and tax deferrals.
“This new package of support for airports, alongside a new testing regime for international arrivals, will help the sector take off once again as we build back better from the pandemic.”
Earlier in October, the UK established a new task force to explore ways of implementing Covid-19 testing for international travellers arriving in the country.
The move came after airlines and airports called on the government to introduce a testing regime that could provide some flexibility to the quarantine system and support the recovery of the aviation sector.
Previously, all international travellers arriving in the UK were required to conduct a 14-day self-isolation. However, arrivals from some destinations were exempted from this quarantine.