The latest government review has been called by travel industry associations to remove all Covid restrictions that are still in place for travellers.
According to data released last week, one in 25 UK citizens has the virus. Airlines say that passengers testing does not have any real effect.
Ministers may be finalizing changes to the guidance for Covid testing.
According to the travel industry, compulsory testing of UK departures and arrivals has hampered their recovery.
According to the BBC, the government discussed the possibility of removing the advice that anyone who tests positive for a lateral flow device must seek confirmation by PCR testing.
His cabinet will be meeting the prime minister later to support his decision to not impose further Covid restrictions in England.
Boris Johnson stated Tuesday that he believed the country would “ride through” this wave. However, he admitted to some areas of the NHS feeling temporarily overwhelmed.
The government stated that it would continue to review all existing measures.
Which are the most current travel regulations?
All travellers who are 12 years old or older to the UK must show evidence of negative testing. This can include a PCR test or a side flow test. It should be done no later than two days prior to departure.
The next step is to pass another test – this one must be a PCR-test – within two days of their arrival in Britain.
The rule came into effect a month earlier. At the time, however, new cases were reported daily in the UK at 40,000-50,000 per day. It was almost all made of Covid’s Delta variant.
Now, however, Omicron has been announced by the UK as the predominant variant in the pandemic. This means that airlines will be able to argue that they can no longer rely on Omicron testing.
France and the US are the only two countries worldwide that have exceeded 200k positives in just one week.
Airlines UK, a trade association for airlines UK, argued that the industry would suffer financially if it continued to use the existing measures. According to the trade group Airlines UK, current limitations have depressed consumers’ confidence and caused a drop in demand.
Manchester Airports Group (MAG), which received the government-commissioned research, claims that it has shown that Omicron spreads very little or not at all from pre-departure testing.
The Omicron-related measures had led to a drop in passenger traffic at MAG’s airports of more than 30%.
Tim Hawkins is chief of staff for MAG. He told BBC Today that the research had shown there was a foundation to take out all international travel tests due to the large number of Covid cases here in the UK.
He stated that “we are past the point when international travel restrictions could play a key role in managing this peak. And if it isn’t beneficial then we shouldn’t be doing so and should remove those measures.”
Sajid Javid (Health Secretary) stated that Omicron would soon be the predominant variant. This will mean there won’t need to travel restrictions.
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Ministers should consider not only travel restrictions but also future domestic testing plans.
Recent weeks have seen a lot of cases, which has put pressure on the system. Sometimes appointment slots or home testing kits are temporarily not available.
Johnson made plans to hire 100,000 people as critical workers for daily medical tests on Tuesday.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the government plans to alter testing regulations so that those who are positive for lateral flows devices don’t need to go through a confirmatory test.
Although the government didn’t comment, they pointed out the UK Health Security Agency guidance which stated that anyone who receives a positive lateral flow test should undergo a follow up PCR test.
According to the agency, “We are continuing to look at PCR availability and will continue to make more booking slots for PCR every day.”
The cost of private test must be paid by travelers, rather than the free NHS.
Charlie Cornish, chief executive officer of MAG and Tim Alderslade, chief executive officer at Airlines UK stated that government should push for the immediate removal of all travel testing requirements. This is a costly move which will have a significant impact on the industry.
In a statement, they said that “it is vital they don’t remain in place for a day longer then is necessary.”
According to a government spokesperson, all current measures are under review. He added that testing for Omicron was necessary to stop additional Omicron cases entering the UK and to keep people from spreading it to other infected.
The Times reported today that government will likely drop the requirement to have people undergo a pre-departure screening before arriving in England. It did say that it will not change the requirement for people to undergo a PCR testing within 2 days of their arrival in England.
A rise in investor confidence in this sector led to European tour operators and airline stocks rising on Tuesday.
Susannah Streeter, Hargreaves Lansdown’s analyst, told Reuters that “With so many people being forced to isolate themselves at home in the short term, it’s probable many will spend the next few weeks looking for travel inspiration on blogs, as there is so much need for a vacation.”
Cirium, an aviation analytics company, recently reported that international flight numbers in the UK fell 71% due to the Covid pandemic in 2021.
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