England introduces new test and release system for international travellers

Published on : Wednesday, November 25, 2020

All passengers arriving in England will now be able to reduce mandatory self-isolation by at least a week under new plans from the government. England Transport Secretary Grand Shapps recently confirmed that arriving passengers will have the option to take a test after five days of self-isolation, and they will be exempted from the need to quarantine upon receiving a negative test result.

The new strategy for testing international arrivals will be effective from December 15 and passengers from countries featured on the travel corridor list will continue to be exempt from quarantine. Authorities are hoping that the move will give passengers the confidence to book international trips in the knowledge that they can return home and isolate for a shorter period if they have received a negative test.

Under the plans, passengers arriving into England by plane, ferry or train should book their test before travelling and should also complete a passenger locator form. They will also need to self-isolate for five days before taking a test, instead of taking the test at their port of arrival. Passengers will be able to book a test from a provider on a government list before arriving in England. If travellers decide to book a test, they will need to state the same on their passenger locator form prior to arriving and then go straight into self-isolation at home as usual.

Passengers can also resubmit their passenger locator form if they decide to opt in for a test after their arrival to England. The government has mentioned that it had considered evidence which demonstrates that a test after five days of self-isolation provides materially better results than just having a test on arrival, as it allows time for the virus, should it be present, to incubate, helping reduce the risk of a false negative result.

Shapps said in his statement that authorities have a plan in place to ensure that the route out of the pandemic is careful and balanced, one that will allow them to focus on what can be done at present to bolster international travel while keeping the public safe. He stated that the new testing strategy will allow people to travel more freely, see loved ones and drive international business.

He mentioned that by giving people the choice to test on day five, the country is also supporting the travel industry as it continues to rebuild out of the pandemic. Health Secretary Matt Hancock added that ensuring that safe travel is possible has been a priority for the global travel taskforce. He shared that the test on day five of the 14-day self-isolation period will identify positive coronavirus cases and allow those who test negative to return to work and see their loved ones while abiding by domestic coronavirus restrictions.

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