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Coronavirus travel testing rules in England to be relaxed - BBC

JANUARY 24, 2022

Ministers are expected to approve a further relaxation of England's international travel testing rules when they meet later on Monday.

Likely changes include dropping the requirement for fully vaccinated travellers to take a lateral flow Covid test within 48 hours of arriving.

It is unclear when any changes are likely to come into force.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have previously followed England's lead, but it is for them to decide.

The move will be welcomed by the travel and tourism industry, one of the sectors most badly affected by coronavirus lockdown measures.

Research published last week by trade body Airlines UK and Manchester Airports Group said there was scientific evidence for making testing rules a "thing of the past" for fully-vaccinated travellers.

At the weekend, one of the big testing firms said Covid tests for travellers arriving in the UK should be scrapped. Simon Worrell, global medical director of Collinson - which also runs airport lounges - said: "As soon as we can drop it, we will be delighted."

And earlier this month, the boss of Heathrow Airport, John Holland-Kaye, said the aviation industry will only fully recover when all restrictions are lifted.

Currently, fully vaccinated passengers, who have had two doses, and under-18s no longer need a pre-departure test two days before travelling to the UK.

However, within 48 hours of arrival, everyone aged five and over - or 11 and over in Scotland - must take a lateral flow test (LFT), or a more expensive PCR test.

If they take an LFT and it is positive, they must self-isolate and take an NHS PCR test to confirm the result.

Vaccinated travellers also have to fill in and submit an online passenger locator form no more than 48 hours before arriving, even if they are just passing through the UK.

But Mr Worrell said: "Airport testing was only ever supposed to be a band-aid, a temporary solution to get trade and tourism staggering whilst we build up immunity and we are able to fight the virus by ourselves. We are at that point now.

"The link between getting infected and hospitalisation has been broken. We are in a fantastic place - the envy of the world, I think."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last Wednesday the government was reviewing testing arrangements for travel. He said the Health Secretary Sajid Javid would announce the outcome of the review in the coming days.

However, virologists have expressed caution. Dr Stephen Griffin, from the University of Leeds, told the BBC last week: "You have a moral responsibility to monitor and to know if you're infectious. It is a good idea to test."


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