Coronavirus testing at airports is FINALLY set to begin: Screening plane passengers for Covid-19 will start in two weeks… with aim of opening air corridor to US in time for Thanksgiving
- Regional air corridor to the US could potentially be in place by Thanksgiving Day
- Ministers are said to favour the German model of testing air passengers twice
- Industry insiders say trials expected to take place on a limited number of routes
Trials for testing air passengers are expected to begin in a fortnight in a victory for the Daily Mail’s Get Britain Flying campaign.
Boris Johnson has told the boss of Heathrow that the Government is aiming to start testing in two weeks, with a regional air corridor to the US potentially in place by Thanksgiving Day on November 26.
Ministers are said to favour the German model of testing twice: once up to 72 hours before departure and again after a few days of quarantine.
Trials for testing air passengers are expected to begin in a fortnight in a victory for the Daily Mail’s Get Britain Flying campaign. The coronavirus testing facility at Heathrow is pictured above
If passengers test negative on both occasions, they can leave quarantine early.
According to industry insiders, trials are expected to take place on a limited selection of routes at this stage.
Flights between New York and London –the world’s busiest leisure and trade route – are seen as the most likely to be chosen for trials.
Last night, the US Department of Transportation confirmed it has been in talks with the British Government about opening transatlantic routes, but stressed an announcement is not expected imminently.
Ministers are keeping details of their testing plan tightly under wraps but Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to give an update this week.
According to industry insiders, trials are expected to take place on a limited selection of routes at this stage. Passengers are seen arriving at Heathrow in August
Aviation bosses have been demanding airport tests to save jobs and rescue the virus-ravaged economy.
Heathrow chief John Holland-Kaye told Travel Weekly: ‘We’ve heard from the Prime Minister that he hopes to go to a trial in the second half of October.
‘It would take a couple of weeks to put into practice, but if we get good results, there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to extend it.’
And in a talk at the Tory party conference on Saturday, Stephen Barclay, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘I am expecting Grant Shapps and Matt Hancock to say more about this in the coming days.
Test yourself EVERY morning
We will all soon be able to test ourselves for Covid-19 when we brush our teeth in the morning, a health minister has predicted.
Lord Bethell said the Government was exploring technology which will allow people to conduct a test every day.
This will mean they can safely stop social distancing without fear of putting others at risk, allowing them to travel on public transport, socialise and return to work.
He also courted controversy by claiming Britain will look back at its Covid-19 response ‘like the Olympics’ and be ‘extremely proud’.
Lord Bethell added: ‘There have been some outstanding pieces of delivery that have not been fully appreciated. When it’s all over and we look back and reflect, we will actually be extremely proud of ourselves.’
‘But from a Treasury point of view, the sort of things you would expect us to be looking at is what testing can we have at airports, and how does that interact with the quarantine rules? What is best in class internationally? So, if we look, for example, at some of the German states which are using testing to then release earlier from some of the restrictions.’
Mr Barclay also said the Treasury is considering granting special exemptions to business travellers, although this is not expected to form part of the trial.
Under the testing proposal put forward by industry leaders, passengers flying between certain destinations would be allowed to board only if they test negative up to 72 hours before departure.
They would have to go into quarantine on arrival in Britain but could be freed if they test negative after five days.
This would satisfy experts on the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, who say tests after five days detect up to 85 per cent of coronavirus cases, and 96 per cent after eight days.
It is thought passengers will be asked to pay for private tests as part of ticket costs to avoid putting pressure on the NHS.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘Work is ongoing with clinicians, the devolved administrations and the travel industry to consider if and how testing could be used to reduce the self-isolation period.’
Aviation bosses have been demanding airport tests to save jobs and rescue the virus-ravaged economy. Heathrow’s testing facility is pictured above