The Daily Telegraph

Quar­an­tine could be cut to eight days for trav­ellers to UK

- By Charles Hy­mas Home Af­fairs editor Travel · United Kingdom · Conservative Party of New York · Netherlands · United States of America · Canada · Singapore · London · Sao Tome and Principe · Grant Shapps · Robert Courts · London Heathrow Airport · Heathrow, FL

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK