The government is to make an announcement at testing at arrival at airports within days, Treasury Minister Steve Barclay has said.
The Telegraph reports Barclay told Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye that airport testing was a ‘key priority’ and an announcement would be made by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Health Secretary Matt Hancock ‘in the coming days’.
Airport testing has widely been touted as an alternative to imposing 14 days’ quarantine on passengers returning from a country deemed a coronavirus ‘high risk’.
The minister was speaking on day one of the Conservative party conference, which is being held virtually this year.
The newspaper described his statement as ‘the first key moment’ of the conference.
No details have been revealed so far, but it is believed testing could be piloted first at Heathrow, then extended to other airports.
Barclay also suggested that there might be a ‘two-pronged approach, as business travellers will have different needs to tourists’, the Telegraph added.
“There are a number of issues within the wider question of testing,” he said. “We are acutely aware, both in Treasury and across government, that this is a key issue with the sector and I hope the government will be in position to say more about this in the coming days.”
Paul Charles, Chief Executive of The PC Agency said he has submitted a proposal to the government for a two-test system in which travellers from a high-risk zone would show a negative test certificate on arrival into the UK, then quarantine for four days, after which they’d take a second test, which would be paid for privately.
He told the Telegraph: “I know that the government has been working for some weeks on a testing solution for travellers into and out of the UK. The policy that’s due to be announced will avoid further pressure on the NHS and put more of the onus for the cost of a test on the passenger.
“This will enable hotels, tour operators and airlines to offer pricing with tests included, making it easier for travellers to buy an all-inclusive travel package. I’m hopeful that a UK traveller testing policy will help to unlock the quarantine restrictions which at the moment are strangling the sector and preventing recovery.”