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Covid tests for travellers are set to be relaxed TODAY

Sunseekers rejoice! Covid tests for travellers are set to be relaxed TODAY in boost for tourism industry

  • Ministers are set to scrap pre-departure Covid traveller tests from today
  • As Omicron fear subsides, concern continues to grow for the tourism industry
  • Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is thought to be pushing for relaxed measures

Ministers are set to scrap pre-departure Covid traveller tests today in a massive boost for winter sunseekers and the beleaguered tourism industry.

As fear subsides about the Omicron variant, concern is growing about travel firms going bust due to beefed-up testing rules.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is thought to be pushing for relaxed measures. The ‘Covid O’ Cabinet meeting is likely to see pre-departure tests scrapped.

The meeting will also discuss down-grading post-arrival tests from costly PCR swabs to cheaper rapid lateral flow swabs. 

Ministers are set to scrap pre-departure Covid traveller tests today in a massive boost for winter sunseekers and the beleaguered tourism industry (stock image)

This is less likely as health officials favour PCRs, which can be sequenced to detect variants of concern.

The UK is the only country in Europe demanding that even fully-vaccinated holidaymakers take two tests when returning home.

Under the current rules, one rapid swab must be taken pre-return within 72 hours of travel to the UK and a post-arrival PCR test by day two.

Travellers must self-isolate until the results of this latter test are received, and can be stuck in quarantine for days if results are delayed. 

Ministers will also discuss the need for quarantine today.

The rules were beefed-up at the end of November in a bid to stem the importation of Omicron.

They added hundreds of pounds in testing bills to the cost of foreign breaks for families.

They also increased fears about being stranded abroad if pre-return test results are positive.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (pictured) is thought to be pushing for relaxed measures

As a result travel firms reported mass cancellations.

Prior to the November changes, travellers were required to take just one rapid test post-arrival by day two.

Returning to one post-arrival test will likely boost bookings and confidence among would-be travellers to press ahead with plans for foreign holidays or reuniting with relatives abroad.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, which represents major carriers such as British Airways, Jet2 and easyJet, said it would also boost domestic tourism businesses because laxer rules will attract more foreign visitors.

He said: ‘This isn’t just about outbound holidays.

Under the current rules, one rapid swab must be taken pre-return within 72 hours of travel to the UK and a post-arrival PCR test by day two (stock image)

‘We’re losing billions in revenue from people who ordinarily would want to travel to the UK to spend money, including in our shops and restaurants.

‘This is a competition at the end of the day – we need to attract people to the UK, not put up a big ‘closed for business’ sign.

‘We can’t have international travel – and the hundreds of thousands of jobs and livelihoods that depend on it – being treated differently to hospitality and other domestic sectors.

‘If Omicron doesn’t warrant further restrictions at home, then the case for continuing with the emergency testing requirements for aviation is undermined, especially now it is the dominant variant in the UK.’

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