Increased use of Covid testing could allow current 14-day quarantine restrictions to be cut to seven days from next month.
The government’s Global Travel Taskforce has reportedly recommended travellers returning from virus hotspots should be asked to quarantine for five days before being tested.
They would then be released from self-isolation two days later provided the test is negative, the Mail reported today.
Passengers would be required to pay for tests to avoid adding pressure on the NHS.
A conventional swab test can cost more than £100 if bought privately, but prices for new fast-turnaround tests are expected to fall to as little as £5 next year as production is expanded.
Ministers are expected to sign off the new quarantine package within days in the hope that the testing regime can start from December 2 when Boris Johnson has pledged to end the second lockdown in England.
It will initially be trialled for passengers on flights returning from a small number of destinations before being rapidly expanded if it proves successful.
Ministers are also expected to agree a package for a restart of the UK cruise industry from late January providing lines can demonstrate they have stringent testing and infection control measures in place.
Foreign cruises may resume in the following months if cruise operators agree to take full responsibility for repatriating any passengers or crew stranded due to the virus.
Cruises from the UK have been banned since July when the Foreign Office issued blanket advice against all cruise ship travel following a series of outbreaks around the world.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps, who is chairing the taskforce alongside health secretary Matt Hancock, told Sky News: “We have said we’re actively working on that [reducing both the quarantine and self-isolation periods] and I’ll be saying more about the international side of that very soon.”
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