Extensive coronavirus testing is needed at airports to stop the “dire” effect the quarantine system is having on the travel industry, Labour has said.
Industry-damaging quarantines should be reviewed and more extensive testing rolled out at airports to reduce travellers’ self-isolation periods, Labour has said.
In a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, the opposition party said the “dire warnings” from the travel sector about the use of “chaotic” blanket self-isolation advice meant it was time to review the methods being used to prevent the spread of Covid-19 from those returning to the UK from abroad.
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said a “robust testing regime in airports” could minimise the need for those returning from countries with high coronavirus prevalence to quarantine for two weeks.
He also said “serious concerns” about the low-level of monitoring of incoming travellers, claiming “less than a third of passenger locator forms are checked”, were another reason why a review was required.
The UK Government has been making weekly decisions in response to rising coronavirus rates in Europe and beyond, opting to reimpose travel restrictions where the risk of infection is escalating.
Holidaymakers in France, Spain and the Netherlands have all been caught out by the changes in recent weeks as ministers have introduced, in some cases with only a few hours’ notice, regulations forcing those returning to self-isolate for 14 days.
But Mr Thomas-Symonds said the quarantine was having a “dire” impact on the travel industry.
He has called on ministers to carry out a “rapid review” of the current protocols and consider introducing more testing at airports.
In his letter to Ms Patel, Mr Thomas-Symonds wrote: “I write to call for a rapid review to fix chaotic quarantine arrangements that are losing public confidence and undermining our ability to keep people safe and save jobs.
“In order to rebuild this trust I am calling on Government to undertake a review into quarantine policy, to report within a fortnight.
“It should include outlining options for a robust testing regime in airports, and related follow up tests, that could help to safely minimise the need for 14 day quarantine.
“It is clear that ramped up testing is an important part of trying to respond to the pandemic and safely reopen society.
“Given the huge challenges being faced by the travel sector and the scale of job losses, it makes sense to look at this area as part of a wider package of improvements to the testing regime.”