Foreign travel quarantine will be slashed from 14 days to five under a ‘test and release’ scheme to get Britain flying again
- Ministers approved a plan to change the 14-day isolation rule from next week
- Under new rule travellers have to quarantine for five days before being tested
- If the test result is negative they will be released from isolation immediately
Travel quarantine will be cut to just five days next week to get Britain flying again.
Ministers have approved a plan to change the 14-day isolation rule that has crippled the aviation and travel sectors.
Under a ‘test and release’ scheme, which will be introduced next month, travellers will have to quarantine for five days before being tested.
If the result is negative they will be released from isolation immediately. Fast-turnaround tests, which produce results inside an hour, will be used. The cruise industry is also to make a phased restart by February.
Minsters have approved a plan to cut the travel quarantine to just five days to get Britain flying again. (Stock image)
A Whitehall source said 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 move is a major victory for the Daily Mail’s Get Britain Flying campaign, which was launched in September to help prevent the collapse of the aviation and travel sectors.
Under a ‘test and release’ scheme travellers will have to quarantine for five days before being tested. (Stock image)
The Government’s Global Travel Taskforce, which was launched last month, is understood to have recommended a seven-day quarantine period, with travellers returning from Covid hotspots tested after five days and released two days later.
Wish Wu were here! Epicentre’s tourism drive
The Chinese city of Wuhan is wooing tourists back
While Britain looks set for a bleak Christmas, the Chinese city of Wuhan – where the coronavirus pandemic began – is wooing tourists back.
A video entitled ‘Let’s meet in Wuhan’ has been released by the city’s culture and tourism bureau to attract holidaymakers.
It shows off the area’s natural beauty spots alongside images of packed bars, parties and large crowds, all currently banned in Britain.
Shots of couples and families meeting, alongside images of musicians and ballet dancers, illustrate the divide between the East and the West, where the virus is still raging.
After a complete shutdown at the start of the year, Wuhan has not recorded a case of community transmission since May.
But ministers persuaded Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty that the increasing reliability of the fast-turnaround tests meant there was no reason they should not be used.
Tests will have to be paid for privately by passengers to avoid increasing pressure on NHS resources.
A conventional swab test can cost more than £100 if bought privately, but prices for the new quick tests are expected to fall to as little as £5 next year as production is ramped up.
The quarantine regime dealt a major blow to hopes of a revival in the aviation sector when it was introduced in June.
Unless returning from a small number of countries on the quarantine-free travel corridor list, travellers have to self-isolate for 14 days or face a £1,000 fine.
Ministers insist some form of quarantine remains essential to prevent cases from abroad sparking a third wave of the virus next year.
At one point during the summer officials estimated that 10 per cent of all new cases had been brought back by Britons who had been abroad.
Foreign travel is banned except for work or emergency purposes, but that restriction is expected to end when the lockdown is eased on December 2.
The new system will initially be trialled for passengers on flights returning from a small number of destinations. But officials hope it can be rolled out rapidly to cover the whole world if it proves successful.
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.
The taskforce will suggest that domestic cruises should be allowed to restart from late January, provided operators can show they have stringent testing and infection control procedures and medical facilities to deal with any outbreak.
Foreign cruises could resume in the following months, provided operators agree to take full responsibility for repatriating passengers and crew if they are stranded as a result of an outbreak.
Earlier this year, the Foreign Office had to spend millions of pounds bringing home 19,000 cruise passengers.