In Brief

Airport coronavirus testing could halve quarantine times, claim industry bosses

Government under pressure to replace 14-day self-isolation policy with Covid tests on arrival

Ministers are facing calls to introduce coronavirus testing at airports in order to cut quarantine requirements that are putting many would-be passengers off travelling.

In a letter to Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, bosses from the UK’s 20 biggest airports warn that the government risks doing “irreparable damage” to the economy unless rules requiring new arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days are replaced with testing on arrival.

The industry leaders - from airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and Luton - “give Mr Johnson seven days to give the go-ahead to testing as one of a series of measures to prevent the loss of up to 110,000 aviation and allied industry jobs”, reports The Telegraph.  

The Daily Mail says that ministers are considering two options “to open up the skies and help rescue the Covid-ravaged economy”.

One would see passengers given an airport test on arrival, followed by a second test a few days later. Or in the second option, passengers would undergo a single test, possibly at an NHS clinic or using a home kit, after five to eight days of self-isolation. 

Labour is joining industry leaders in demanding a rapid review of the current “chaotic” quarantine rules, reports The Times.

The calls come after modelling conducted for the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) found that “a 14-day quarantine could be halved by giving travellers a test a week after arrival and releasing them if it comes back negative”, the paper says. 

However, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday that while testing could help “ease up” on quarantine, it would not be a “silver bullet” for totally getting rid of mandatory self-isolation for people arriving in the UK.

Ministers have also questioned whether the push to shorten quarantines would be a good use of the UK’s testing capacity, which officials said last week was already “maxed out”. 

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