Quarantine times for arrivals to England will be more than halved for those passengers willing to pay for a CCP virus test, the government has announced.
UK airports and operators have been worse hit than rivals in many other countries, where authorities have established testing schemes for arrivals and departures, cutting quarantine times, and establishing so-called air corridors.
The private tests are likely to cost between £80 and £120, according to The Times of London. The government said that passengers had to pay for private tests to protect the capacity of the NHS test and trace system and to “ensure that any UK resident who has symptoms is able to get a test.”
Airport industry representatives welcomed the announcement of the test and release, but are still pushing the government to establish pre-flight testing systems in order to eradicate the need for quarantines altogether.
Heathrow last month lost its crown to Paris’s Charles De Gaulle as Europe’s busiest airport, with Frankfurt and Amsterdam Schiphol airports looming in the rearview mirror.
Passenger numbers at the airport are less than one-fifth of normal levels.
Since last month, passengers flying from Heathrow have been able to purchase a one-hour test in the airport, smoothing the way to destinations requiring proof of a negative test before departure, such as Italy and Hong Kong.
The rapid saliva swab is the first of its kind in a major airport in the UK.
“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,” says the government release.
With some tests taking 24–48 hours, that could mean a total of seven days quarantine.
The government also announced that business rate reliefs for airports. This was welcomed by the airline industry, but airport operators said that some airports would not receive the full relief.