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Published on Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Govt confirms creation of Global Travel Taskforce to explore Covid testing



Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed the creation of a Global Travel Taskforce designed to 'open up international travel and boost our businesses'.


But with the 14-day quarantine period remaining in place until November at the earliest, the move did little to quell industry frustration, with business leaders insisting action was needed now.


Shapps said the taskforce will 'implement a testing regime to reduce the self-isolation period along with a wide range of other measures to enable travel whilst keeping coronavirus rates down'.


"Following agreement from medical experts we are moving ahead with the next step to reduce the travel quarantine period," he added.


It will report back in November with the 14-day quarantine period remaining in place.


The taskforce will explore how testing for international arrivals could be implemented to 'boost safe travel to and from the UK'.


The department of transport said in a statement it will include the examination on the feasibility of a single test taken after a period of self-isolation, provided by the private sector and at the cost of the passenger.


"The taskforce will work with medical experts to better understand when a test should be taken based on the progression of the disease," it added. "The taskforce will also work closely with the private testing sector to ensure that testing for international arrivals does not impact on NHS capacity."


In a Department of Transport statement, Shapps insisted the current measures have 'saved lives'.


"Our understanding of the science now means we can intensify efforts to develop options for a testing regime and help reinvigorate our world-leading travel sector," he said.


"This new taskforce will not only help us move towards safer, smoother international travel as we continue to battle this virus but will also support global connectivity - helping facilitate more covid secure travel whilst protecting the population from imported cases."


Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who will jointly chair the taskforce with Shapps, added: "It is vital we do everything we can to control the spread of the virus and our measures at the borders are designed to help keep the country safe, by preventing imported cases of COVID-19.


"We know how these measures have a significant impact on people's lives and on the travel and tourism industries, so we are working hard across government to explore ways to open up international travel in a safe way."

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