Pre-departure travel covid tests set to be scrapped

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Pre-departure coronavirus tests for arriving travellers are likely to be scrapped.

The move would be a major boost for holidaymakers planning winter sun breaks and the beleaguered travel and tourism industry.

The testing rules for international travel will be discussed at a meeting of the Cabinet’s Covid-19 operations (Covid-O) committee on Wednesday.

The PA news agency understands that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is pressing for a relaxation of restrictions to help the airline sector.

There have been calls to drop the requirement for even fully vaccinated travellers to take a PCR test after arriving in the UK – but such a move may be opposed by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Research commissioned by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) – which owns Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports – and trade body Airlines UK indicated that removing all international travel testing would not affect the spread of the Omicron variant in the UK.

The analysis, conducted by Oxera and Edge Health, concluded that domestic restrictions would be the only way to reduce Covid cases related to the strain.

Passenger numbers at MAG airports fell by more than 30% from early December, following the introduction of the tougher testing requirements.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Parliament on December 13 that the justification for the rules would be “minimised” as Omicron became the dominant variant in the UK.

MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish and Airlines UK boss Tim Alderslade said in a joint statement: “This latest research by Oxera and Edge Health clearly supports the position that travel testing requirements can be removed in full without impacting overall case rates and hospitalisations in the UK.

“It should give the UK Government confidence to press ahead with the immediate removal of these emergency restrictions, giving people back the freedom to travel internationally to see loved ones, explore new places and generate new business opportunities.”