Arrivals in England to enjoy short quarantine with negative COVID-19 test

Clay Curtis
November 25, 2020

In a boost to holiday travel, the 14-day quarantine requirement for travellers arriving in England from most destinations will be reduced to as little as five days if they test negative for COVID-19.

Under the "Test to release for worldwide travel" strategy, passengers must book their test prior to travelling and must also complete a traveller locator form.

Fresh data released in the next few days will determine new tiers being proposed across England as hopes emerge of the coronavirus reproduction rate dropping below unsafe levels.

England's current lockdown bans most worldwide travel but when it ends on December 2, people will be free to go overseas whatever restrictions are imposed in their local area, transport minister Grant Shapps said on Tuesday.

"This new package of support for airports, alongside a new testing regime for worldwide arrivals, will help the (aviation) sector take off once again as we build back better from the pandemic", finance minister Rishi Sunak said in the government statement.

"It is important that the test to release scheme is kept under review, to make sure that advancements in testing are used to further reduce quarantine to as short a period as possible".

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps is urging people not to travel on trains this Christmas to prevent "overcrowding", and there is a possibility that the public could catch Covid. Those who choose not to be tested will have to observe a two-week quarantine. "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".

"The aviation industry is vital to our economy - creating jobs and driving growth", said finance minister Rishi Sunak.

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"This will be done at the cost of the traveller to protect the capacity of NHS Test and Trace and ensure that any United Kingdom resident who has symptoms is able to get a test".

"We have always said that implementing an effective testing regime which reduces the length of quarantine is key to getting people travelling again", he said in a statement. It will be replaced with regional measures that involve three tiers of restrictions based on the scale of the local outbreak. "The Government needs to provide a targeted resilience fund for inbound tourism businesses and access to grants from which they have previously been excluded, to ensure they can survive the winter".

The assays can be booked from private providers on the government's list for £65-120.

They can then take a test on or after day 5 of the isolation period either at home or at a private provider's testing site, and on receipt of a negative result, can immediately finish self-isolating and return to following domestic rules.

They can not be tested at the ports where they arrive. If they choose to opt in after arrival, they will need to resubmit their passenger locator form.

The aim is to avoid tests on the day of arrival which may not be positive if the virus is contracted while travelling or is still in incubation.

Coach operator National Express said it is increasing its services to meet demand in the run-up to Christmas.

"Through our safer travel pledge we are cleaning more often and providing better travel information, and we're asking people to help others by washing their hands regularly and wearing a face covering, unless exempt".

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