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UK Introduces COVID-19 Testing Strategy: Arrivals Can End Self-Isolation Early If They Result Negative

UK Introduces COVID-19 Testing Strategy: Arrivals Can End Self-Isolation Early If They Result Negative

After lots of criticism, and demands to replace the 14-days quarantine with testing, the United Kingdom government has finally decided to do so, by introducing a COVID-19 testing strategy for all arrivals from countries that are not included in UK’s travel corridor lists.

All travellers that reach England from these countries, starting from December 15, will have two options of restrictions upon arrival:

  • Self-isolate for 14 days
  • Self-isolate for at least five days and then test for COVID-19

The decision has been announced on November 24 by the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who asserted that the new restrictions will enable the UK to boost international travel while keeping the UK citizens at home 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,” Shapps said.

In a press release explaining the new entry conditions, the Department for Transport noted that the ‘Test to release for international travel’ strategy intends to give passengers the confidence to travel abroad, knowing that they can return home and isolate for a shorter period if they have received a negative test.

Those who reach England by plane, ferry or train and wish to benefit from the move will have to complete the following steps:

  1. Book their test before their trip
  2. Complete a passenger locator form
  3. Self-isolate for five days
  4. Take the test
  5. Upon receiving negative results, self-isolation can be ended immediately

The test should be taken at a private provider on the list. Those that do not want to take the test remain subject to the 14-days quarantine.

Calling the aviation industry vital for UK’s economy, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, asserted that the new testing strategy, as a part of a wider package of support for airports, will help the sector to revive.

“This new package of support for airports, alongside a new testing regime for international arrivals, will help the sector take off once again as we build back better from the pandemic,” he said.

Whereas the Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock pointed out that the testing will be done at the cost of the traveller in order to protect the capacity of NHS Test and Trace.

Only this month, an analysis by Oxera Consulting and Edge Health companies found that the UK’s two weeks mandatory quarantine rule is the least effective method to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

However, the UK decided to permit the option of testing after five days in self-isolation, upon recommendations of expert representatives from the aviation, maritime, international rail, tourism and hospitality industries in a bid to boost international travel for all modes, whilst safeguarding public health in the UK.