Britain’s business leaders have written to Boris Johnson urging him to introduce five-day quarantine tests by the start of next month to open up travel in time for Christmas.
Ten leaders of organisations representing travel, tourism, small business, retail and hospitality have told the Prime Minister it is “vital” a testing regime is in place by the end of the second national lockdown, due on December 2.
They warned that without it the UK risked losing not only £121bn in exports to the US and passenger traffic but also our status as the third largest aviation market in the world.
Their appeal comes as the Government’s taskforce on testing, chaired by Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, and Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, is due to present its report to the Prime Minister this week.
The business leaders urged Mr Johnson to consider the minimum period of quarantine necessary for release on receipt of a negative test result, citing research by the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene that a fifth day test detected 88 per cent of cases.
They warned that 90 per cent of visitors from the EU and 75 per cent of arrivals from the US spent fewer than seven days in the UK, creating a financial incentive for a shorter period of quarantine.
“For economic recovery, the difference between intervals of a test and release for arrivals from day 1, day 3, day 5 or 7 will make a significant difference in appetite to travel,” said the business executives.
In sum; the work of the Travel Taskforce and implementation of a new testing regime represents a positive first step in supporting UK business and economic recovery.
For a regime to be truly effective however, it must keep up on a global scale and not be reflective of studies at one moment in time, but a rolling review which can capture new technological developments such as rapid testing.
“There is also a vital distinction in the impact for economic recovery with passenger appetite to travel in the event of a “isolate and test” model at 5 days or 7 days – we would ask Government to consider this in the course of its review.”