UK: Test on Arrival Could Avoid Coronavirus Quarantine

UK: Test to Avoid Coronavirus Quarantine

A Test May Exempt Arrivals from the UK's 14 Day Coronavirus Quarantine, which went into effect on June 8, 2020. To date, while there are select exemptions for essential medical workers, flight crew, diplomats, truck and freight drivers, seasonal agricultural workers provided they self-isolate where they work, and a few other categories, most foreign visitors and returning UK citizens are supposed to self-quarantine for 14 days, or face fines of up to GBP 1000 in England if a surprise visit finds that the traveler is not present at the address provided.

In a couple weeks, if the government agrees, Swissport UK, collaborating with medical firm Collinson, could trial RT-PCR Covid-19 testing at a major UK Airport, with test results available in 5-24 hours and the capacity to test 500 passengers per day.

The cost of the test, which would be booked online prior to travel, would be GBP 140 (~$175, less than Vienna Airport's EUR 190 to avoid Austria's 14 Day Quarantine), and the test would be administered in an airport clinic located after immigration. After being tested, the traveler would need to proceed home (if a resident) or to the hotel or booked accommodation to self-isolate until receiving the test results.

Swissport and Collinson still need to secure UK government agreement that passengers who receive a negative test result will be exempt from quarantine. Leaders of the firms are hopeful, since the PCR swab tests are the type that the UK's National Health Service (NHS) is using.

Jason Holt, the leader of Western Europe for Swissport, believes that 95% of the traveling public is negative for Covid-19, and by exempting from the quarantine those who test negative, more leisure and business travelers will pull the trigger on booking flights. As it stands, British Airways is likely to fly less than 50% of its schedule in July, due to the impact of the quarantine rules.

Currently, unless a traveler already falls into one of the quarantine exemption categories, a negative test result does not exempt one from the 14 day quarantine.

In late June 2020, Boris Johnson is expected to announce some travel bubbles with several countries that have a low prevalence of coronavirus, enabling travelers from those countries to avoid quarantine when traveling to the UK.

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