Airport Covid testing to be given go-ahead 'within days' says MP – which could end quarantine restrictions

AIRPORT testing could be given the go-ahead within the next few days after months of discussion, which would end the need to quarantine after returning to the UK from a high risk area.

Chief secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclacy confirmed that decisions regarding new measures which include airport swabbing will be made in the "coming days".

He also said it would be a similar procedure currently seen in Germany, where passengers arriving from high-risk countries are able to be tested, meaning they can leave the quarantine, according to the Times.

Speaking during a Conservative conference, Mr Barclay explained: "“I am expecting Grant Shapps and Matt Hancock to say more about this in the coming days."

He continued: "So, if we look, for example, at some of the German states, which are using testing to then release earlier from some of the restrictions."

Brits currently have to quarantine for 14 days if returning from any countries deemed high risk, which includes Spain, France, parts of Portugal and Greece, the Netherlands and Turkey, which was added to the quarantine list last week.

Which countries require a UK quarantine

There are a number of holiday destinations which require a 14-day quarantine when returning to the UK, including:

  • Spain
  • France
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • Portugal (excluding the islands)
  • Greece (excluding mainland and some islands)
  • Croatia
  • Turkey


However, the new measures could end the need to quarantine, or drastically reduce the time spent in self-isolation.

In Germany, the tests on arrival are free at the majority of airports, with test results within 48 hours, but passengers can pay for private tests with faster results within a few hours.

The travel industry has been calling for airport testing to be implemented, with the quarantine restrictions badly affecting airlines and airports.

Heathrow Airport’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye previously said the Prime Minister is hoping for testing trials on passengers to start by mid-October.

The airport boss is hoping that the tests, which cost £150 for each passenger, will allow a huge increase in the number of travellers able to fly on holiday next summer. 

Mr Holland-Kaye told Travel Weekly: “We can start testing at some scale in the next few months. I would love to have a New York-London pilot up and running by Thanksgiving [November 26]. That seems entirely feasible.

“If we get good results, there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to extend it. It’s possible that in the first or second quarter of next year, we see ‘rapid point of care’ tests become more normal.”

He warned that demand would be likely to outstrip supply for the time being. 

He said: “The demand for these will be enormous. It might take much longer before there is sufficient supply to satisfy the needs of all travellers.”

According to Mr Holland-Kaye, the government wants more than just one test for travellers on arrival, as it won't catch those who have just contracted the virus. 

So Heathrow is looking at other options, including a test on arrival at the airport followed by a second test seven days later, or a scheme where passengers are also tested before they board the plane to London. 

Heathrow has had an airside Covid-19 testing centre in Terminal Two ready to swab passengers from last month. 

Airports are being forced to introduce new measures amid the pandemic, which include mask-detecting and social distancing cameras.

Italy is currently testing 30-minute pre-boarding coronavirus tests, which would ensure everyone on the flight was negative.

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