UK arrival Quarantine reduced
A day later than expected, Grant Shapps finally revealed that the new scheme to reduce quarantine to 5 days (plus the time for test results) would start from 15 December.
Passengers arriving in England will be able to reduce mandatory self-isolation by at least a week under the new plans.
Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, confirmed that arriving passengers can opt to take a test after five days of self-isolation, with a negative result releasing them from quarantine. Obviously, it takes some time to get the results back, so realistically you are looking at least at 6 days of quarantine. There is no change to the travel corridor list which will continue to be exempt from quarantine.
It is hoped that it will give people the confidence to book trips knowing that if their destination comes off the travel corridor list, at least they would only face a maximum of 7 days isolation depending on when they get their test results.
When arriving into England by plane, ferry or train you will need to book your test before you travel; must complete a passenger locator form; and will still need to self-isolate for five days before taking a test. If you decide that you want to change to the shorter quarantine after arrival, this is possible but you will need to submit the locator form again to do so and book your test.
Shapps said: “We have a plan in place to ensure that our route out of this pandemic is careful and balanced, allowing us to focus on what we can now do to bolster international travel while keeping the public safe.
“Our new testing strategy will allow us to travel more freely, see loved ones and drive international business.
“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.”
Passengers will be able to book a test from a provider on a government list before arriving in England. It is expected to cost between £65 and £120 which is great news considering the price of tests has been rising to astronomical levels recently. With new laboratories due to open in the New Year and cut-price testing by Boots and Gatwick, I predict that average prices for a pre-departure PCR test will start to fall to around the £90-150 price point by the New Year.
I do welcome this move as anything that supports the travel industry at the moment is great news. I still don’t believe this is the best option in terms of passenger confidence or in terms of keeping the country safe from COVID. The fundamental issue with the current and proposed plans is that neither tackle people that simply chose not to self isolate. The fact that you can take a test after 5 days that will costs somewhere between £65-120 is probably not going to interest someone intent on breaking quarantine anyway!
The total length of time of quarantine is still around 7 days so it is highly unlikely anyone would choose to visit here, although with our current COVID rates it is unlikely anyway. I did think it was hilarious that Shapps told Sky News this morning that he expected our new system to be a model that other countries want to copy! Is he that unaware that many countries have similar models already for many months, only with the extra precaution of a test before travel as well? This to me makes far more sense – the Barbados model has been running for around 9 weeks now and so far no one has developed COVID after the second test that is known of. It seems a better model as it means a test 3 days before departure and another 1-2 days after arrival. Then you rule out a proportion of infected people travelling in the first place and reduce quarantine on arrival. It is also all mandatory and enforced.
What do you think? Have you been out off booking travel due to changing quarantine requirements? Would this make you book travel? Let us know in the comments below.
Most travel from UK allowed from 2 December
It was also confirmed that international travel for holidays will be allowed from 2 December. There is still a lot to be confirmed about what will be law and what will be advisory. Therefore I won’t go into a great amount of detail today about what you can and can’t do in the tiers.
If you fancy a staycation, this will be allowed in Tier 1 and 2. In Tier 3 hotels can only open for business travellers. Hotel bars will likely to be shut unless they are serving full meals in Tier 2 but gyms and spas can open in all tiers.
There are also rules about who you can travel with but basically, the only tier where you can mix with people indoor (up to 6 people) is Tier 1 which pretty much explains the rest of it. You are advised not to leave your Tier 3 area to a lower tier and you can’t stay in another tier area overnight either. This is the part that needs to quantified in terms of advice versus legal restriction before we see whether it means you can travel or not.