Transport secretary Grant Shapps

Covid testing ‘could be in place by October half-term’

Ian Taylor

A Covid-testing regime for travellers could be in place for the October half-term holidays alongside island travel corridors, according to those representing the industry to government. An aviation source told

Travel Weekly: “It’s entirely feasible to have testing in place by October. The government just has to make a decision.” An airline source agreed: “If they get a move on we should be able to meet the October half-term [deadline]. That is realistic.” The source added “testing is


no-goer at the moment. We accept that. We have no data to refute what the government is saying on that. But the government has data that suggests tests after five or eight days would work. The idea the government can’t come up with something is ridiculous. No one is happy.” Transport secretary

Grant Shapps was quizzed on testing when he announced the island

corridors policy on Monday. He

the only way to get the industry going”, but there is an acceptance that a single-test regime at airports is currently a non-starter. The aviation source said: “We understand testing on arrival is a

told MPs: “We’re working on a test and quarantine policy and I will return with proposals currently being worked on with the industry.” But he insisted: “We have to

have the science behind this. So far [government research centre] Porton Down has not approved any test you read about in the press. There are no tests signed off as usable.”

The government

just has to make a decision [on testing]... but it doesn’t appear [to show] any urgency

Shapps added: “There is pressure

on the testing system. I’m not sure we should be prioritising testing for holidaymakers.” The aviation source noted: “The

government is constantly boasting about its testing capacity. It’s frustrating to hear Shapps talk with such a lack of urgency.” The airline source agreed: “There

doesn’t appear any urgency. They need to get a move on. Infection rates are creeping up everywhere, including here. It’s not getting any easier.” The source insisted: “I’m

confident we’ll see a testing regime, but only if they make a decision. “There is a real sense of urgency

now. Airlines can’t plan schedules and don’t know how many staff they need. Without a decision, companies’ decisions on jobs will be much more severe.” Speaking on a Travel Weekly

webcast, Abta director of public affairs Luke Petherbridge said: “We’re not medical experts, not scientists. We’re not in a position to dictate the testing model. We need testing as an additional mitigation measure to reopen important international markets and to get the travel industry on a path to recovery. It’s for the government to work out how they want to do that.” He noted: “In most countries

that have introduced testing, it’s the consumer who pays. The price point then becomes important.”

10 SEPTEMBER 2020 5

PICTURE: Shutterstock

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