Coronavirus testing of air passengers arriving into the UK was rejected today by the government which instead unveiled a plan to test travellers five days into quarantine.
Airlines have been demanding the government introduce testing to help flights recover.
They claim that the current system of 14-day quarantine for people arriving from areas deemed high risk is destroying the industry.
Under the plans unveiled today by Transport secretary Grant Shapps, passengers would pay for a test five days after arrival and if it shows negative they can end their quarantine period.
Shapps said the test would mean people waiting a week and, if they are clear, getting an early release.
He added that Britain was also ‘trailblazing’ an internationally recognised system where tests and isolation take place prior to and after travel and would require no quarantine.
He said Britain was working on other countries to assess if this self-isolation before departure might be feasible.
Last week, Shapps announced the launch of a Global TravelTaskforce to consider how best to test for international arrivals and to travel safely in and out of the country.
He said testing on arrival was not the answer to this issue.
“A day-zero, on-arrival-test, could allow for significant numbers of people to wrongly believe they are not bringing Covid-19 back with them.”
Airlines have seen flights tumble compared to a year ago as travel restrictions have put people off travelling even when they have been allowed to travel.
Last month, John Holland -Kaye, the chief executive of Heathrow Airport, the UK’s largest arrival and departure hub, said the government’s quarantine measures and travel restrictions were “strangling the economy”.
The airport saw traveller numbers drop 81.5% in August compared to a year earlier.