Quarantine for returning Brits ‘to be slashed to seven days’ in holiday lifeline

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Brits returning to the UK will only have to quarantine for seven days under a radical overhaul which will see the government's self-isolation period slashed in half.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the virtual Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) travel industry conference on Wednesday that travellers will self-isolate at home and will take a Covid test a week after landing.

The minister ruled out testing on arrival at UK airports and ports, adding: "We're proposing a domestic test regime, where people land and wait a week, have a test and get early release."

This test will need to take place "in person" he said, and will be provided by the public sector, a move he claimed will take strain off the NHS.

Travellers will have to pay for individual tests.

"We're also proposing an internationally recognised system, in which Britain would be a trailblazer, where tests and isolation take place prior to travel and after travel and would require no quarantine," he said.

He added that the measures will hopefully "result in significantly more people flying in the months ahead".

Currently, anyone arriving in the UK from overseas must currently self-isolate for 14 days unless they have travelled from an exempt destination.

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But Shapps stopped short of providing a start date for this planned testing scheme, according to The Daily Telegraph.

It comes as health officials announced 19,724 more infections and 137 as the UK's daily coronavirus cases soared by 40% in a week.

This represents a significant rise on the figures earlier this summer but is down on the darkest period in April when more than 100,000 Brits were being infected and at least 1,000 were dying every day.

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Reacting to the news, the chief executives of Heathrow Airport, Manchester Airports Group, EasyJet and Virgin Atlantic said the creation of Shapps' Global Travel Taskforce represented a "step in the right direction".

The taskforce will be jointly chaired by Shapps and Health Secretary Matt Hancock and will look at how a testing operation could be ruled out.

It will consult with the aviation, travel, healthcare and coronavirus testing sectors, and is expected to make its first recommendations next month.

Shapps said: "The current measures at the border 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.

"This new task force 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 while protecting the population from imported cases."

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