The Government has today published the final report of the Global Travel Taskforce. Alongside this publication the Government has also announced the introduction of a voluntary ‘Test to Release’ regime for international arrivals, which will launch in England from 15 December.
Global Travel Taskforce
The purpose of the Taskforce is to get our international travel and tourism sectors moving again safely. The implementation of a ‘Test to Release’ regime for international arrivals is an important plank of this. This year has seen otherwise strong travel and tourism businesses threatened by the pandemic, firms which were on trajectory to make a significant contribution to the UK’s economic growth.
In this context, the Taskforce’s report is an important landmark, detailing 14 recommendations to help industry back on a path towards growth. The recommendations cover three broad aims: first, to ensure journeys are safe, second, to increase demand safely; and, finally, for the UK to take a leading role in driving the global standards we need to support recovery. This report is the next step towards recovery for the travel and tourism sectors, and we will continue to adapt our approach over time as the virus evolves. The report can be viewed here:
Test to release
Central to the work of the Taskforce has been the rapid development of a ‘Test to Release’ scheme for international arrivals.
This will provide individual travellers who are arriving from high-risk countries, territories and region that are not on the travel corridor list, and thus not exempt from the 14-day self-isolation requirements, with the option to book and pay for a private test from a gov.uk list of providers, to be taken after five days of self-isolation. If the result is negative, they will be released to go about their daily lives. Based on the scientific evidence, we have agreed that a test on day five of self-isolation provides a strong level of protection against transmission of COVID-19, allowing for much more freedom for people seeking to travel.
The scheme will be open to arrivals by all modes of transport, and to all arrivals from non-exempt countries (those not on the travel corridor list). The scheme is voluntary; those who do not wish to pay for a test can continue to self-isolate for 14 days.
Following extensive work by DfT and DHSC officials, the scheme will be rolled-out in England from 15 December, and the associated regulations will be laid in Parliament on 24 November. The delivery of this critical scheme is a significant step forward and will provide the industry and consumers with certainty ahead of the Christmas period and beyond. Further details on the ‘Test to Release’ scheme can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-test-to-release-for-international-travel
In addition to ‘Test to Release’, we are considering how new technology and different approaches, including mass testing, play a role in allowing more freedom for people to travel with fewer restrictions in the New Year. As our knowledge and capabilities regarding testing develops, so will our policy.