Test to release: Everything Britons need to know about new reduced quarantine scheme

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Test to release is the latest scheme from the Government which aims to reduce the 14-day quarantine period down to just five days for those who take a test on day five of their self-isolation period. However, the tests will be at the expense of the holidaymaker and must be conducted privately.

Following the announcement, the Government updated its website with all of the information Britons need to know before travelling.

The new scheme is due to begin from December 15.

It only applies to arrivals entering the UK from countries not on the travel corridor list.

Countries deemed as “low risk” due to the number of coronavirus infections can be travelled to without the need for quarantine.

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, commented:” We have a plan in place to ensure that our route out of this pandemic is careful and balanced, allowing us to focus on what we can now do to bolster international travel while keeping the public safe.

“Our new testing strategy will allow us to travel more freely, see loved ones and drive international business.

“By giving people the choice to test on day five, we are also supporting the travel industry as it continues to rebuild out of the pandemic.”

How long will the quarantine period now be for travellers?

Holidaymakers will now have the option to slash their quarantine period down from 14 days to just five if they opt to take a test.

“They can then take a test on or after day five of the isolation period either at home or at a private provider’s testing site, and on receipt of a negative result, can immediately finish self-isolating and return to following domestic rules,” explains the Government regulations.

However, the Government states: “Those choosing not to take a test when arriving from a non-exempt country must continue to follow the current self-isolation requirements (two weeks).”

What’s more, new arrivals who return a positive covid test will also be required to self-isolate for the full duration.

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How do holidaymakers get a test?

Holidaymakers will not be able to use NHS services for travel testing, and instead will be required to source a private test.

“Those opting into the scheme having to book and pay for a coronavirus (COVID-19) test from a private provider on the GOV.UK list, we are ensuring the NHS Test and Trace testing capacity is protected,” states the Government website.

The full list of approved testing providers can be found on the website.

“Under the ‘Test to release for international travel’ strategy, passengers arriving into England by plane, ferry or train should book their test before they travel; must complete a passenger locator form; and will still need to self-isolate for five days before taking a test – rather than taking it at their port of arrival,” it continues.

“If they choose to book a test, they will need to state this on their passenger locator form prior to arriving and then go straight into self-isolation at home as usual.

“If they choose to opt-in after arrival, they will need to resubmit their passenger locator form.”

How accurate will a test on day five be?

The test to release scheme has been devised by the Government’s “Global Travel Taskforce” which used advice given by representatives from the aviation, maritime, international rail, tourism and hospitality industries.

According to Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock: “Ensuring that safe travel is possible has been a priority for the Global Travel Taskforce.

“This test on day five of the 14-day self-isolation period will identify positive coronavirus cases and allow those who test negative to return to work and see their loved ones while abiding by domestic coronavirus restrictions.”

The Government further states: “The government has considered the evidence which demonstrates that a test after five days of self-isolation provides materially better results than just having a test on arrival, as it allows time for the virus, should it be present, to incubate, helping reduce the risk of a false-negative result.”

How much will private tests cost?

The cost of tests will vary depending on the provider, however, this will be done “at the cost of the traveller” according to Mr Hancock.

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