News: Shapps moots possible changes to quarantine regime

British transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has mooted possible changes to the quarantine system in a move likely to boost the struggling travel sector.

Currently all visitors to the UK are expected to quarantine for 14-days, unless arriving from a small number of countries on a government approved safe list.

People coming from Spain, Portugal, France, Turkey, the United States and other major tourism markets are currently expected to isolate for two weeks.

However, speaking at the Conservative party conference earlier, Shapps said change could be coming.

While stressing a period of quarantine would still be required for most travellers, he said testing could be introduced in order to reduce restrictions.

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“The next stage is to enable testing; which people sometimes wrongly think is a very straightforward thing – ‘Why don’t you just test people at the airport? If you know they are clear, let people in, job done,’” Shapps said.

“The answer is that in someone who is asymptomatic, not displaying any symptoms, that will not find a very large proportion of cases.

“In fact the studies show that if you check somebody on the first day that they arrive, you will probably just find seven per cent of people who actually do have the virus.”

He added: “So we have got to be a bit smarter than that.

“The way to do that is to still have a period of quarantine but also test and be able to release people.

“I will be saying more about that shortly.”

It is thought the government is planning to introduce a single test for travellers after a period of isolation shorter than the current two-week requirement.

If they test negative, quarantine would be curtailed.

Shapps also added any testing at airports or testing at later point would have to done through private capacity to reduce stress on the NHS.

Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

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