“But only in return for a negative COVID test,” he said.
Test Providers Not Meeting DemandTravel consultancy, The PC Agency’s CEO, Paul Charles, has criticised the Test to Release scheme writing on Twitter that most of the test providers “cannot yet help you to leave quarantine early or meet the demand.”
Budget Airline, Ryanair’s Chief Executive Michael O’Leary meanwhile said the scheme was “more of the mismanagement of COVID by the Johnson government,” because it tests travellers after arrival into the country rather than before travelling.
He also criticised Shapps for not listening to the airline industry.
“If people are willing to get their tests within the 72 hours prior to their departure or prior to arriving in the UK, it’s a much simpler, much easier way of ensuring that those people who fly in, particularly on short-haul flights are COVID free,” he said.
He said this would be preferable to allowing them into the country and the London underground and transport systems before they get a test five days later.
Test ‘Does Not Get Rid of Quarantine’When the scheme was first announced at the end of November, he said “a test at day 5 does not get rid of quarantine.”
“And that’s why we look forward to working with Government to move towards a pre-departure or domestic testing regime that can remove safely the need for self-isolation altogether, as quickly as possible,” he said.
“The companies already used by London’s airports are not on the list of approved providers,” he said.
‘Privately Provided Scheme’Nevertheless, the government said in a statement emailed to The Epoch Times that the scheme was privately provided, that the government was “merely offering the framework and standards for delivery” and that it had been clear that a surge in demand for tests was expected.
“We have been working closely with the private sector to deliver Test to Release, which is a step in the right direction for passengers and industry,” a spokesperson said.
“We have set high standards for any providers involved to ensure that we do not import COVID-19 into the UK at such a critical time,” they said.
“The list of approved providers is being constantly updated, with several larger businesses already added to help meet demand,” they added.
Over 14,000 tests, the government said, were sold on the first day of the Test to Release scheme launch.