‘Have tests ready for lockdown end’ Ian Taylor

The government’s Global Travel Taskforce was due to submit recommendations to the prime minister on a Covid test regime for travellers this week, with industry leaders targeting the end of lockdown as the start date. Aviation sources suggested the

lockdown “obviously caught the Department for Transport on the hop”, but one said: “The taskforce is still due to report this week. “The government needs to use

this period so a test regime is ready for when lockdown ends, whether that is December 2 or there is an extension – even if it’s a pilot scheme. Aviation needs to get off the ground. “There is confidence the private

testing sector will be able to meet demand. Passenger numbers are likely to be low at the restart, so it should be conceivable to bring in testing for all passengers having to quarantine, but a trial would be a way out for the government.” An airline source said: “The travel

corridors have not been removed because of lockdown and December 2 gives a date to work towards, although the lockdown might be extended. “It will be a test and release

scheme. The shorter the time before release from quarantine the better.” The source added: “It’s still

a significant challenge. There could be complexity with the implementation.” A review of Covid tests on

travellers internationally suggested The government

needs to use this period so a test regime is ready for when lockdown ends

‘test and release’ after five days could be up to 90% effective. The report by consultancy firms Oxera and Edge Health was commissioned by airlines and industry bodies. It followed an Oxera-Edge Health report in October that suggested Public Health England modelling on testing is “flawed”. The latest study examined

traveller testing in several countries including France and Iceland. However, the government has

indicated it has already examined the results of these overseas testing regimes. Transport secretary Grant Shapps

told Parliament on September 7: “The Iceland example is interesting. Countries have been doing day-zero testing and privately concede it does not provide the answers. “A test later, whether that is five

days, seven days or eight days, is a more probable solution.” In other developments, Cyprus

was removed from the travel corridors list from Sunday and the Canary Islands government approved a decree requiring visitors to provide negative Covid tests taken within 72 hours of arrival, accepting either

PCR or antigen tests. i Destinations: page 34

Furlough revival ‘too late’ to avert planned job cuts

Juliet Dennis

Agents welcomed the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until December, but said it was too late for firms already making redundancies. Furlough, which had been due

to expire at the end of October, was extended for the England-wide lockdown, from November 5 until December 2, as agents again had to shut high street stores. It reverts to the August version of the scheme; the government pays

4 5 NOVEMBER 2020

80% of wages of staff not working and businesses pay national insurance and pension contributions. Staff can be brought in and out. Agency owners said the extension

means staff will be better off than they would have been at work under the now-postponed Job Support Scheme (JSS), under which employees would earn at least 73% of wages for working a minimum of 20% of hours. Independent agencies said they

planned to furlough most staff as there was less work than in March. Tui is placing all staff at its 350 shops

Liverpool, pictured during the first lockdown in April

on furlough, while its homeworking team, created when it closed 166 stores in July, will handle calls during lockdown. But Advantage Travel Partnership

leisure director Kelly Cookes warned it was “too late” for many members. “Most businesses had made

plans for November, a lot of which included redundancies,” she said. Miles Morgan Travel is assessing

which of its 100 staff will work from home and who will be furloughed. Its three stores in Wales reopen on November 9 when lockdown there

ends. Its English branches will all shut. Chairman Miles Morgan said:

“The frustration is we’d done all our planning based on the JSS, but now have to look at furlough and the best options for the business.” He called on government to provide furlough support for agents working while agencies are not generating revenue. Bailey’s Travel managing director

Chris Bailey, whose two-branch agency has lost £3 million in turnover since March, said: “Staff will be better off furloughed than under the JSS. I’ve encouraged them to find sideline jobs.”

PICTURE: Shutterstock

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