Pre-Departure Tests ‘Could Be Scrapped’ in Rules Review
Pre-departure tests for holidaymakers “could be scrapped” in the government’s review of travel rules on Wednesday (January 5).
According to the Telegraph, ministers are “arguing privately that (the tests) have been rendered pointless by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant”.
The Telegraph understands that several senior government figures are pushing for the test requirement to be dropped, including Grant Shapps, the transport secretary.
The report also highlights how other senior Tory MPs, including Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 backbench committee, are also calling for the requirement to be dropped.
Currently, all those travelling to the UK must take a PCR or lateral flow test in the two days before arrival. They must also take a PCR test within two days of arrival.
The requirements were reintroduced last month in response to the rise of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
Sir Graham told The Telegraph: “We need to see consistency and, if a more relaxed approach is good enough for the domestic economy given what we know about Omicron, it should be good enough for travel too.”
Henry Smith, the Tory chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on aviation, told the newspaper: “International travel can’t be the forgotten sector as we learn to live with Omicron. We long ago had community transmission in the UK, and thankfully the data on severity is looking positive.
“These emergency restrictions simply aren’t required any longer.”
Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK, added: “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 testing for aviation beyond January 5 is undermined, especially now it is the dominant variant in the UK.”