Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that from 15 December 2020, passengers arriving into England from countries not featured on the government’s travel corridor list will have the option to take a test after 5 days of self-isolation, with a negative result releasing them from the need to isolate.
This new initiative cuts the mandatory self-isolation for incoming visitors to England by a week.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said:
“We have a plan in place to ensure that our route out of this pandemic is careful and balanced, allowing us to focus on what we can now do to bolster international travel while keeping the public 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 5, we are also supporting the travel industry as it continues to rebuild out of the pandemic.”
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said:
“Ensuring that safe travel is possible has been a priority for the Global Travel Taskforce. This test on day 5 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.”
This test will be done at the cost of the traveller to protect the capacity of NHS Test and Trace and ensure that any UK resident who has symptoms is able to get a test.
Passengers will be able to book a test from a provider on a GOV.UK list before arriving in England. If they choose to book a test, they will need to state this on their passenger locator form prior to arriving and then go straight into self-isolation at home as usual. If they choose to opt-in after arrival, they will need to resubmit their passenger locator form.
They can then take a test on or after day 5 of the isolation period either at home or at a private provider’s testing site, and on receipt of a negative result, can immediately finish self-isolating and return to following domestic rules.
Those choosing not to take a test when arriving from a non-exempt country must continue to follow the current self-isolation requirements (2 weeks).
The testing strategy is one outcome of the government’s Global Travel Taskforce report recently presented to the Prime Minister, which also sets out a pathway to restarting the cruise sector.
The recommendations are based on advice from a consortium of expert representatives from the aviation, maritime, international rail, tourism and hospitality industries to boost international travel for all modes, whilst safeguarding public health in the UK.
The government will also continue to work with international partners and representatives across the transport industries to further build on the recommendations in the report, including exploring pre-departure testing pilots with partner countries on a bilateral basis.
Travellers should always check the latest advice from the FCDO.