Airport testing scheme for end of lockdown sees "good progress"
“Good progress” is being made on the Government’s new airport testing programme, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. Government’s plans for airport testing are to launch a programme just after the end of England’s lockdown on 2nd December. The progress was announced by the minister on BBC Radio 4, who said that testing could lead to a “much reduced” self-isolation period for travellers than the current 14-day mandatory timeframe. Mr Shapps told an airport industry conference that the private sector would provide single tests given to passengers as part of a "test and release" programme.
The air travel industry has been hit hard during the COVID-19 emergency. Financial support and job cuts were required to keep many major airlines afloat. UK airports and airlines said that a shorter quarantine period was even more crucial after a new four-week lockdown imposed in England until 2nd December wiped out any of the remaining meagre income airlines were still making from low levels of travel during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Industry leaders have called for extra Government help, asking for tax holidays from requirements such as air passenger duty and business rates.
Testing costs would be covered by the passenger under the plans, Department for Transport refused to comment on how the price of a test would be. The quick-turnaround tests that are being widely used in Liverpool’s mass testing trial give "some hope for optimism" said Mr Shapps, as they could "open the way for non-quarantine air travel". Earlier, Environment Secretary George Eustice told BBC Breakfast the new "lateral flow" test was available to everyone in Liverpool and could be a "major breakthrough" if successful. Mr Shapps added that the UK was looking with partner countries at self-isolation and testing options that could be carried out before departure.