England announced to shorten quarantine time for incoming travellers
England will introduce a new system on December 15 allowing passengers arriving from high-risk countries to take a COVID-19 test after five days of quarantine and to be released from any further self-isolation if they test negative, according to the government statement released on Tuesday.
The new scheme will be open to all passengers arriving from countries not featured on the government’s safe travel list, such as France, Italy, Spain and a number of other major destinations usually favored by British tourists.
“The move will give passengers the confidence to book international trips in the knowledge that they can return home and isolate for a shorter period if they have received a negative test.”
Travelers who don’t take the test will still be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine. People who would like to take advantage of the scheme will have to book a test with a private provider from a government-approved list, and pay for the test themselves.
Airlines and other companies in the travel and tourism industries had been calling for such a scheme for months, having suffered devastating consequences from a 14-day quarantine rule that has deterred people from traveling.
The government also said it would introduce new financial support for commercial airports and ground handlers in England in the new year, capped at up to 8 million pounds ($11 million) per site.
“This new package of support for airports, alongside a new testing regime for international arrivals, will help the (aviation) sector take off once again as we build back better from the pandemic,” Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said in the government statement.
On Monday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told members of parliament (MPs) “an escape route is in sight” as he announced a raft of new measures for when the country’s national COVID-19 lockdown ends on December 2.
Speaking to parliament, Johnson said a return to a three-tier system would ensure COVID-19 infection rates will not rise exponentially before the expected nationwide vaccine rollout in early 2021.
“For the first time since this wretched virus appeared, we can see an end to the pandemic,” Johnson told MPs in a statement to the House of Commons, delivered virtually from his Downing Street residence.
Johnson remains in isolation after meeting with an MP who tested positive for COVID-19.
Gyms, non-essential shops and pubs can reopen in all areas from the lifting of lockdown, while the contentious ban on outdoor grassroots sports is ending.
Limited crowds will also be allowed to return to sporting events for the first time since early March.
Johnson also promised to roll out mass testing across all Tier 3 areas.
“We all want a Christmas we need and deserve but we don’t want to throw caution to the wind, forcing us all back into lockdown in January,” Johnson told MPs.
The major new guidelines include:
· The return to a three-tier system introduced in October, with more areas set to be placed in the high-risk and very high-risk tiers after lockdown.
· Pubs can reopen, but those in tier three will stay closed, except for takeaway orders.
· The 10 p.m. curfew is scrapped, with last orders in pubs remaining at that time, but with customers given one hour of “drinking-up” time.
· Outdoor grassroots sports can resume, while soccer stadiums can reopen with up to 4,000 fans allowed, depending on tiers.
· Mass testing will be introduced in all Tier 3 areas.
In response, opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said a return to the three-tier system was “risky.”
He told MPs: “The previous three-tier system didn’t work. Tier 1 areas drifted to Tier 2, almost all Tier 2 areas ended up in Tier 3, and those in Tier 3 couldn’t see a way out and we ended up in national lockdown.”
The latest daily figures provided on Sunday showed 398 deaths within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test across the UK.
In total, 55,024 people have died across the UK, while the latest reproduction number is estimated at between 1 and 1.1, according to the government website.
At the weekend, the Westminster government said plans were being made to allow limited household mixing for several days over the Christmas period.
Johnson had hoped to announce those plans at the same time as revealing his post-lockdown measures, but must reach agreement with the devolved UK parliaments before doing so.