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Announcing the system, a statement from the Department for Transport said it “will give passengers the confidence to book international trips” knowing a shorter isolation period is possible.

 

Transport secretary Grant Shapps, said: “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.”

 

The DfT said the scheme was “one outcome” of the government’s Global Travel Taskforce report recently presented to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which also sets out a strategy to restarting the cruise industry.

 

The department added that government would continue to work with partners and representatives from transport industries on other recommendations featured in the report – including pre-departure testing trials with partner countries on a bilateral basis.

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Having previously voiced its scepticism for testing upon arrival, the government said its “test to release” system would provide “materially better results” than testing straight after entering the country, as it allowed time for Covid to incubate within an infected person - helping reduce the risk of a false negative result.

 

The DfT referenced policy shifts from Germany and Iceland in which the countries changed from a test on arrival approach to an isolate and test system "due to testing capacity and levels of imported cases".

 

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “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.

 

“This will be done at the cost of the traveller to protect the capacity of NHS Test and Trace and ensure that any UK resident who has symptoms is able to get a test.”

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