Passengers arriving in England will be able to reduce mandatory self-isolation by at least a week under new plans from the government.
Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, confirmed arriving passengers will have the option to take a test after five days of self-isolation, with a negative result releasing them from the need to quarantine.
The new strategy for testing international arrivals will come into force from December 15th.
Passengers from countries featured on the travel corridor list will continue to be exempt from quarantine.
Officials hope 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.
Under the plans, 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.
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.”
✈️ TEST TO RELEASE FOR INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS ✈️
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. pic.twitter.com/2Q6wqZ6XrN
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) November 24, 2020
The government said it had considered evidence which demonstrates that a test after five days of self-isolation provides materially better results than just having a test on arrival, as it allows time for the virus, should it be present, to incubate, helping reduce the risk of a false negative result.
Health secretary, Matt Hancock, added: “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-solation 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.”
Passengers will be able to book a test from a provider on a government list before arriving in England.
If they choose to book a test, they will need to state this on their passenger locator form prior to arriving and then go straight into self-isolation at home as usual.
If they choose to opt in after arrival, they will need to resubmit their passenger locator form.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images
Trade welcomes test and release – but calls for end to quarantine
Government to launch airport support package