Halving quarantine

By | Category: Travel news

The announcement on Monday evening by Grant Shapps, the transport minister, that the quarantine period would be shortened if people took a PCR test has been welcomed by the travel industry.

Will testing to reduce quarantine times help travel rebound?

Note that this plan applies only to those returning to their homes in England and not Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. The governments of those countries are still to decide whether they will follow the English approach.

The theory behind the idea is that after you return to England you still go into quarantine but after five days you pay to use a private testing system and then if the result comes back negative you can go about your “normal” life again without having to fulfil the remainder of the fourteen days.

I am assuming that it is a PCR test rather than antigen test but the press release does not specify which test you need in order to reduce the quarantine period.

Give that it takes about 72 hours to get a test result back from a private company (you can more for a 24 hour service) it probably means that the quarantine period will be cut in half.

But will people use the service?

Will a charge of £400-£500 for a family of four deter some people from reducing their quarantine period? Especially as they might have had to pay a similar sumfor tests to get to the destination from which they are returning.

Are people following a fourteen day period at the moment or are they skipping much of the quarantine period? Anecdotally, the view is that people aren’t following the guidance at the moment anyway.

I’m not sure that this move will achieve much apart from putting some money in the hands of those private companies operating the tests. Those that won’t follow the guidance as it stands won’t bother with a test.

The other point to remember is that we are restricted not by the four governments where Britons can go but by the laws in those countries. Barbados, for example, is open but has a policy of wanting a PCR test before we land and at least two others before you can sight-see, both at different intervals after you arrive.

The testing change might make it easier this end of the journey but we still have all the hurdles getting into the destinations we would like to visit.

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