Airport COVID-19 testing

By | Category: Travel news

The almost simultaneous announcement that both Heathrow and the two Paris based airports of Charles de Gaulle and Orly will begin COVID-19 tests shortly requires passengers to make some decisions.

Heathrow’s runways might remain under used until a vaccine is ready

In the case of all three airports, the tests are not the PCR tests but antigen tests which require much less time to be processed and don’t need to go to laboratories for analysis. Secondly the Heathrow tests are only for outgoing passengers flying to Hong Kong and Italy and not on any incoming passengers so quarantine rules still have to be observed.

The tests are not as accurate as PCB tests are as all parties seem to agree so it is quite possible that some people might not be detected but the numbers would be small.

My criticism of the tests is that – at the time of writing – they would be unacceptable to the countries you are visiting. Countries tend to specify which tests are acceptable and which are not.

As far back as August the Bahamas, for example specified PCR tests and insisted that antigen and antibody tests were unacceptable to gain entry.

They are not alone.

The Heathrow testing regime has yet to be accepted by the countries which we generally visit. Yesterday afternoon the Italian state tourist office – ENIT – stated that they had asked the Italian government for a decision on whether the Heathrow tests would be acceptable for entry. That answer should come back in a few days.

Their attitude will be likely to be the same as those of all countries that require a negative COVID test for entry..

Why was this not done before launching the Heathrow project? Passengers could pay the money across – at a cost that is a little pricier than many countries charge – and find they will still not gain entry.

A few months ago, IATA, ACI and a number of other travel consortia asked for a level playing field so that acceptable testing would be common amongst countries. Of all the areas in the world you would have thought that the countries of the EU could come together on a unified process. But they haven’t.

The disunity that coronavirus has caused is one of the reasons that international travel will probably remain muted until a vaccine is in place.  

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