Travel firms call for removal of testing rules
Travel industry groups have called for all remaining Covid restrictions on travellers to be removed in the latest government review.
Airlines say passenger testing is having no real impact after last weeks data suggested that one in 25 people in the UK currently had the virus.
The travel industry said compulsory testing was holding back the sector’s recovery.
Current guidance states all travellers to the UK aged 12 and over have to show proof of a negative test, which can be a PCR or a lateral flow test, and must be taken up to two days before departure for the UK.
They then have to take another test – which this time must be a PCR test – within the first two days after their arrival in the UK.
The trade body Airlines UK argued that continuing the current measures would be financially disastrous for the industry.
Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has sent the government research it commissioned, which it claims shows that pre-departure testing has had little or no impact on the spread of Omicron.
It said that passenger numbers at MAG’s airports fell by more than 30% after Omicron measures were introduced.
Tim Hawkins, chief of staff at MAG, told the BBC’s Today programme the research showed there was a “basis for taking out all tests” related to international travel, due to the high number of Covid cases in the UK.
He added: “We are beyond the point where international travel restrictions can play a role in managing that peak and if there is no benefit to it then we shouldn’t be doing it and we should take those measures out.”
Ministers are also considering future plans for domestic testing after the system has come under pressure in recent weeks from cases surging, with appointment slots and home test kits periodically being unavailable.
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