By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 05 January 2022 • 11:06
In breaking news, Sky has reported that it is expected that the government will announce later today that pre-departure tests will be scrapped for travellers returning to the UK. The requirement was made mandatory in an effort to stop the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, however it is clear from daily infection rates that the plan has not been effective.
The lack of impact had prompted Airlines UK, the industry trade body and Manchester Airports Group to call for the removal of all COVID testing restrictions, saying it would have no real impact on Omicron numbers in the UK. Latest figures show that one in 25 people in the UK had Covid-19 around Christmas.
Travellers to the UK who had been double vaccinated, have been required to be tested prior to departure and again following their arrival, remaining in isolation until a negative result is confirmed. Those who are not fully vaccinated must self-isolate for 10 days after they arrive.
The industry have been calling for a change for some time citing reports from Oxera and analytics firm Edge Health, who they had commissioned to look into the situation. The conclusion was that the time that costly testing and isolation measures imposed on travellers was not effective in combating the virus but was a barrier to travel.
The report also found that the introduction of pre-departure and day two PCR testing in late November and early December respectively had little impact on the spread of Omicron in the UK, compared to a scenario where the policy of a single day two antigen test remained the same.
The additional restrictions are said to have resulted in a 30% drop in passenger numbers reducing the aviation sector’s contribution to the economy by £60m a week.
MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish and Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said in a joint statement “This latest research by Oxera and Edge Health clearly supports the position that travel testing requirements can be removed in full without impacting overall case rates and hospitalisations in the UK.”
Continuing they said “It should give the UK government confidence to press ahead with the immediate removal of these emergency restrictions, giving people back the freedom to travel internationally to see loved ones, explore new places and generate new business opportunities. Travel restrictions come at huge cost to the travel industry, and to the UK economy as a whole, placing jobs at risk and holding back the recovery of one of our most important sectors. It is therefore vital they do not remain in place a day longer than is necessary.”
The added restrictions and fears over Omicron have affected all travel groups and airlines, all of whom have called for pre-departure tests to be scrapped for returning travellers, is removed it is likely to bring a little sunshine to a struggling industry.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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