Much of the world beyond Europe will remain out of bounds to UK travellers until Covid-19 testing is introduced at airports, with travel restrictions set to remain in place.
Prime minister Boris Johnson told MPs on Tuesday: “Every serious country that has this disease under control has brought in quarantine for people coming into their country. We don’t want to see our country reinfected by travellers.”
Industry sources expect restrictions to remain into next year despite travel companies’ demands to scrap quarantine.
An aviation source said: “We’re trying to get the government to remove the blanket quarantine and replace it with a risk-based approach and a system of checks. Why can’t we have long-haul travel to places with lower infection rates than here? Hopefully, we’ll see some long-haul at the six-week review [of quarantine].”
But travel to the US will remain unlikely “given the infection rates in the country”, said the source, and “there will definitely be quarantine restrictions to countries in a very different place to us”.
Restrictions are likely to remain for countries not only with higher infection rates than Britain, but also those with significantly lower rates, such as New Zealand, which will retain their own quarantine measures.
The source said: “The government will have to impose restrictions to a large part of the world, but could do testing at airports.”
An airline source said: “We know there is no chance of certain destinations opening.
“If you rely on long-haul, it will be extremely difficult.
“Testing could be useful, but it would need to be a robust system so people couldn’t cheat.
“Testing everyone on arrival is not feasible. The volume of travel to Britain means you could not do it [and] it’s expensive.”
Airport ground-handler Swissport and management services firm Collinson plan a trial of Covid-19 tests on arriving passengers at a UK airport next month.
The results should be available within seven to 24 hours, removing the need for 14-day quarantine for those testing negative.
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