travel

Travel firms demand testing rules be removed

Travel industry groups have called on the government to remove all remaining Covid restrictions.

Airlines claim passenger testing has no impact when data last week showed one in 25 people in the UK had the virus.

The government said it was “reviewing all measures”.remove all remaining Covid restrictions.

The travel industry blamed mandatory UK arrival and departure testing for slowing recovery.

The PM will meet his cabinet later to urge them to support his decision not to impose new Covid restrictions in England.

To be fair to the NHS, Boris Johnson said on Tuesday he hoped it could “ride out” the current wave.

What are the current rules?

Travellers aged 12 and over to the UK must now show proof of a negative test, which can be a PCR or a lateral flow test, taken up to two days before departure.

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They must then take a PCR test within two days of arriving in the UK.

A month ago, the number of new cases reported in the UK per day was between 40,000 and 50,000 – and rising slowly because it was almost entirely the Delta variant of Covid.

Now that the UK has reported over 200,000 new cases in a single day, and Omicron is the dominant variant, airlines can argue that testing can no longer “keep out Omicron”.

Travel firms demand testing
remove all remaining Covid restrictions.Travel firms demand testing

Only the US and France have surpassed 200,000 positive tests in a single day this week.

Airlines UK argued that keeping the current measures would be financially disastrous. This has reduced demand and consumer confidence, it said.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has sent the government research it commissioned, claiming it has had little or no impact on Omicron spread.

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It said Omicron measures reduced passenger numbers at MAG airports by over 30%.

Last month, Health Secretary Sajid Javid stated that if Omicron became the dominant variant, “travel restrictions would be unnecessary very soon.”

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Ministers must also consider future plans for domestic testing.

The system has been strained in recent weeks, with appointment slots and home test kits occasionally unavailable.

On Tuesday, Mr Johnson announced daily testing for 100,000 critical workers.

People who test positive on lateral flow devices will not need to take a confirmatory PCR test, according to the Daily Telegraph.

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The UK Health Security Agency advises people to take a follow-up PCR test if they get a positive lateral flow result.

“We are constantly reviewing PCR availability and adding more PCR booking slots,” the agency said.

Travellers cannot use free NHS tests.

The government should “immediately remove” travel testing requirements, said MAG CEO Charlie Cornish and Airlines UK CEO Tim Alderslade.

“It is vital they do not stay in place for a day longer than necessary,” they said.

The temporary testing requirements were introduced to “prevent additional Omicron cases from entering the UK, stopping people from passing it on to others if they are infected,” according to a government spokesperson.

The Times reports that the government will likely remove the requirement for pre-departure tests before arriving in England. The requirement to take a PCR test within two days of arrival in England will remain, it said.

European airline and tour operator stocks also rose on Tuesday, as investor confidence rose.

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“With so many people forced to isolate at home, it’s likely many people will spend the next few weeks browsing travel blogs for inspiration,” Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Susannah Streeter told Reuters.

According to a recent Cirium report, the Covid pandemic will reduce international flights to and from the UK by 71% in 2021.

Read More: States’ travel restrictions in the wake of the Omicron scare are explained

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