Coronavirus test trial at UK airport could bring an end to quarantine – but for a cost

Aviation industry bosses are urging the government to consider a new coronavirus testing trial at a UK airport which they say would stop the need for the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for those who test negative. Bosses from aviation services company Swissport, which serves a number of UK airports, says the move “keep the country safe” while also helping “to get the aviation sector back on its feet”.


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Jason Holt, chief executive officer for Swissport spoke out about the initiative on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, revealing the suggestion has been made to Boris Johnson.

The trial would see passengers voluntarily take a coronavirus test, and if the results came back as negative, they would be free to avoid the self-isolation period,

If a passenger tested positive for the virus, they would then need to quarantine and their results would be shared with the NHS test and trace scheme.

Speaking on the radio programme Mr Holt explained: “What we have is a compliment to the quarantine regulations, so we have a system where passengers who arrive into the United Kingdom currently under the situation voluntarily take a test, it is called a PCR test, to see if they have got any genetic items of the COVID virus.

“They would then leave and adopt the quarantine regulations to travel home or travel to the hotel or wherever their destination is, and would then lock themselves down.

“In this case, you would be able to get the result within 24 hours, often no later than 10, and once they had that result, if they were COOVID negative then we would ask the government to consider them to be free from the quarantine and they would have 13 days plus avoiding the quarantine.

“If they were positive then obviously they sit into the track and test system of the NHS, adopt the quarantine and are treated accordingly.”

However, a report by the BBC suggests that passengers would be liable to cover the costs of the voluntary test, which could set them back around £140.

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Travellers who choose not to take the test would have to endure the quarantine period under current Government law.

“The test is voluntary, if you don’t take the test then you obviously have to stick with the 14-day quarantine,” continued Mr Holt.

He added that although Swissport has approached the government with the idea, they have yet to receive a definite answer.

However, he emphasised how important the move would be in helping the currently struggling aviation “get back on its feet”.


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“It would be a win-win,” he said.

“The quarantine would remain in place, so we are not undermining the quarantine, and keeping the country safe. The aviation sector, which is what this trial is about would get on its feet.

“We need to have passengers having confidence that they can travel and not be quarantined when they come back, even if they are not carrying the virus.

“And then, of course, the track and test system in the NHS would have the results of those who are positive, so everybody wins in this.”

Though it is not yet known whether the current quarantine regulation is here to stay, last week Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said the measures would undergo a planned reevaluation on June 29.

“The actual date for the review is the 29 June on the 14-day quarantine,” he told BBC News.

“We are, and I am, actively looking at whether we can introduce air corridors or international travel corridors, perhaps with reciprocal arrangements with other countries.”

Air bridges could open up the opportunity for travellers to journey between participating countries deemed “safe” without the need for a quarantine period.

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