A plan to slash the quarantine time for England’s holidaymakers is “very close” to being announced, the Transport Secretary said today.
Grant Shapps said a new system was finally close after months of work on a scheme to test people once they land on England soil.
Currently anyone flying in from a country that isn’t on a ‘travel corridor’ must self-isolate for 14 days after arrival.
Mr Shapps is working on a plan to cut that to around seven days, if passengers use an optional test which they’d pay for privately.
Earlier this week he failed to provide airport bosses with a deadline but said it would “launch once we’re out of this lockdown”.
A government source later clarified it would launch “soon” after England’s lockdown but not necessarily on December 2 itself.
Mr Shapps’ hopes have been boosted after the huge expansion of ‘lateral flow’ Covid tests which give results in under an hour.
A task force set up by ministers has recommended travellers returning from virus hotspots should be asked to quarantine for five days before being tested, it is reported.
Provided the test is negative, they would then be released from self-isolation two days later - making seven days in total.
Asked if the quarantine regime could be cut, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News: "We have said we're actively working on that and I'll be saying more about the international side of that very soon."
The move would help revive the UK”s aviation industry, which has been battered since the pandemic unfolded with planes grounded, routes cut and thousands of staff losing their jobs.
Mr Shapps told LBC Radio: “We think now with the capacity on testing and in particular the ability for the private sector to provide tests for people who’ve travelled, on the basis that people would pay for them, would open up the way to help to get air travel going again, once we’re out of this lockdown of course and safely.
“If we can shorten the quarantine or the self-isolation in return for a test after a number of days then absolutely that’s what we want to do. I’ll be saying more about this very shortly.”
Asked how shortly, he replied: “You really will not have to wait very long before I say more about this.”
But he refused to confirm whether it would be announced next week.
Under current lockdown rules, people in England are banned from leaving their home except for a limited number of exceptions in law.
Holidays either domestically, abroad or in second homes are prohibited until December 2, when England will return to tiered local lockdowns.