The Daily Telegraph
Quarantine could be cut to eight days for travellers to UK
QUARANTINE could be reduced to eight days within weeks under plans to introduce tests for arrivals from “red l i st ” countries, Grant Shapps is expected to announce.
The Transport Secretary will signal the Government’s intention to enable travellers to cut short their quarantine by having a single Covid-19 test on the eighth day of their 14 days of self-isolation. If negative, they would be freed from the restrictions.
It would be a victory for The Daily Telegraph’s Test4travel campaign and could come as early as this Thursday, with a task force set up to work up concrete plans for testing before Christmas. Tests would be paid for by travellers to avoid putting pressure on NHS capacity.
Speaking at the virtual Conservative Party conference yesterday, Mr Shapps maintained that testing on arrival would not catch up to 93 per cent of travellers who were asymptomatic.
“We have got to be smarter. We have to have a period of quarantine then test and release people,” he said. “I will be saying more about that shortly.”
Ministers are understood to have rejected German and Icelandic models with tests conducted after five days, as Sage modelling suggested this would not catch 15 per cent of potential infections. It rises to 95 per cent after eight days. They are also sceptical about predeparture testing – where a traveller presents on arrival a certificate for a negative test that could shave up to three days more off the quarantine.
“Testing later is much more promising and that’s what we are looking at,” Robert Courts, the aviation minister, told a fringe meeting at the conference.
More than 30 countries have introduced tests for international arrivals from “high risk” or other nations, raising fears that Britain is in danger of losing valuable trade links.
Heathrow has testing facilities at Terminals Two and Five, which could each process as many as 13,000 tests a day but they are standing idle until the Government gives the green light to testing.
John Holland-kaye, the Heathrow chief executive, said testing was the “silver bullet” to open up flights to key trading partners such as the US, Canada and Singapore. “Our facilities are an oven-ready opportunity to see how Britain can safely reopen for business as other countries are doing,” he added.
He told the conference that Britain could take the lead in establishing a common international standard for testing pre-departure to reduce quarantine further.
“If you can get a London-new York pilot up and running, that could be a template for pre departure testing that could open the global economy up again,” said Mr Holland-kaye.