July 13, 2024

Lack of clarity on UK travel testing

The business travel industry has been left frustrated yet again by a lack of clarification from the Government over its plans for traveller testing.

An announcement was expected yesterday after comments made by Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, but there was only a vague reference to the plans from the Prime Minister in his 5pm briefing.

When pressed by a journalist, Boris Johnson said: “We will be bringing in measures to ensure we test people coming in to this country to prevent the virus being readmitted.”

It is believed the Government is considering adopting a similar system to many other countries which now require arriving travellers to have a PCR test before departure.

The Department for Transport said the measure is one of several being considered and more details will be set out “in due course”.

It is not clear if the rules will apply to all arriving passengers or just non-British citizens.

It has been 10 months since the travel industry began calling for testing to help instil confidence among travellers and ensure a travel restart.

“Many destinations around the world implemented testing on arrival months ago and business travellers already expect to present a test when they arrive at their destination and it makes sense to also be tested on entry to the UK,” said Advantage Chief Executive Julia Lo Bue-Said.

“Testing at points of entry through the introduction of safety protocols could enable business travel to resume safely and help kick-start the economic recovery for which business travel plays such a critical role.

“Testing on UK arrival could, finally, be indicative of a real shift in terms of the way we align internationally and provide an opportunity to take a more global approach to testing protocols and ensure that there are similar standards across the world, and essentially more collaboration to make it easier for travellers.”

Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, added: “As we enter the first full day of our third national lockdown, the BTA supports the Government in prioritising public health.

“However, trailing an announcement on the introduction of testing for travellers arriving in the UK and further international travel restrictions, that then doesn’t happen, is causing wholly avoidable stress and uncertainty at a time when our industry is already fighting for survival.

“The travel management community urgently needs clarity on when testing will be introduced, and reassurance that our industry will not be thrown off the cliff by a hard stop to furlough at the end of April. We urge the Government to work with us and other badly impacted sectors to craft targeted support packages to avoid further mass job losses and to enable vital industries like ours to contribute to the British economy once more.”