The UK Government has announced that travellers arriving in England from abroad will soon be able to reduce their quarantine period by more than half if they pay for a coronavirus test after five days.
The new rules will come into force from 15 December with tests from private firms costing between £65 and £120.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the scheme would “bolster international travel while keeping the public safe”.
The travel industry welcomed the plans but describes the policy as “long overdue”.
Currently, anyone who arrives into any region of the UK outside of the travel corridors list needs to enter mandatory self-isolation. Under the new rules however, if arrivals pay for a test after five days and it comes back negative, they will no longer need to observe quarantine.
Results usually take 24 to 48 hours; meaning individuals could be released from quarantine six days after their arrival.
Mr Shapps said the scheme will “allow us to travel more freely, see loved ones and drive international business.” Continuing, the Transport Secretary argued the program would support the travel industry “as it continues to rebuild out of the pandemic”.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK said the announcement provided “light at the end of the tunnel” for the aviation industry and people wanting to travel while also predicting demand for air travel will “tentatively return” following the decision. According to Alderslade, the only way to “comprehensively” reopen the market would be a pre-departure testing regime that would remove the need to self-isolate.
Michael O’Leary, chief executive of Ryanair, voiced similar concerns calling the quarantine programme for arrivals a “fig leaf that doesn’t work” and said testing for travellers arriving into England should happen prior to departure.
O’Leary also dismissed plans to introduce proof of vaccination for passengers on short-haul flights after Qantas in Australia said it would require it for travellers.
As of yet, the new quarantine measures apply only to people whose final destination in the UK is England. The other devolved nations of the UK; Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, are understood to be considering similar policies.
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Other relevant blogs:
Can I Still Travel Under the New Lockdown Restrictions?
United to Offer Free COVID-19 Tests on London Flights
The Best Remote Working Visas
While some big markets are unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19, this list has been carefully curated to feature the European cities where it should still be possible to enjoy the magic of Christmas.