The Travel Quarantine Will Be Reduced To Just Five Days With Private Covid-19 Tests

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The government’s ‘test and release’ scheme will reduce the travel quarantine to under a week.

Finally, some good news in 2020! We hoped that foreign holidays would be allowed by Christmas and our prayers have been answered. Not only can we go abroad post-lockdown, but the government’s new ‘test and release scheme’ will significantly reduce our travel quarantine afterwards. From December 15, those returning to England from Covid-19 hotspots will still have to self-isolate for a minimum of five days, however at this point, taking a private Covid test could bring that oh-so-monotonous quarantine to a swift end.

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Results usually come in between 24 and 48 hours and if they’re negative, you’d be free as a bird after just six or seven days of isolation! According to Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, this plan will allow people “to travel more freely, see loved ones and drive international travel”. Passengers will have to book the Covid tests before travelling themselves, although the government hasn’t released a list of private suppliers just yet.

Travel Quarantine 2
Photo: Shutterstock

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, explained that holidaymakers will have to foot the bill of their own tests in order to “protect the capacity of the NHS Test And Trace”. They currently cost anywhere between £60 and £120, although they may eventually reduce in price. Shapps said “I expect what will happen as this market gets going is we’ll see the cost of tests being driven down. It’s up to companies to innovate if they can produce a test for less money.” Either way, it’s a small price to pay for less time under quarantine…


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Chief executive of Airlines UK, Tim Alderslade, was less enthusiastic about the news, stating that “the only way we’re going to comprehensively reopen the market” is by removing self-isolation altogether. Nevertheless, it’s a step in the right direction and a shorter quarantine will definitely entice many Brits (including myself) to book a trip abroad!

If you need any inspiration for where to go next, here’s the Secret Birmingham guide to the best town and villages to visit in the UK.