Transport Secretary hints at "light at the end of the tunnel" and promises cheaper PCR COVID tests!
#News emerging from last nights Airlines UK / Conservatives Home "Back to business, reopening international travel" webinar highly suggests that us Brits could still be allowed to travel from the 17th of May. 🙌🙏
Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary however stated that opening up needs to be done "cautiously and wisely" as the government truly can't afford to undo all the good which has already been done with the vaccination programme, lockdowns and of course the current ban on #travel.
I was #delighted to hear that he does indeed want to "nurse the travel and #aviation sectors back to full #health" and realises fully the timeliness and importance of reconnecting #families or "family re-unification."
Did you know that the #UK aviation industry is the 3rd largest in the world? 🤩
"The tide is turning" our #vaccination programme is going terrifically well, with 43 million vaccines having already been given, which equates to an amazing 3 in 5 people having received their first dose.
Shapps warned though of the peril of reopening international travel too soon, "we can't put the cart before the horse" being his exact words. The fear is of course inbound variants.
I've really warmed to Grant Shapps, he's extremely passionate about the UK aviation industry and truly wants to see the #world moving again at the earliest safest opportunity.
Reduced price PCR testing.
The Transport Secretary was delighted to share with regard to PCR testing, that he wants to see a "competitive market" which will inevitably "drive down costs" and as such confirmed that the cost of #COVID travel testing is set to be drastically reduced.
Shapps confirmed he was indeed considering whether air #travellers could take a lateral flow test at #home before departure; which would be awesome seeing as we all have access to two #free lateral flow tests per week now. 😃
“a sort of Covid version of bring your own bottle before you go on #holiday”, he said, rather than the more expensive PCR test.
“We are looking at things like whether people can take their tests away,” he was quoted as saying today on the webinar.
He said the requirement for PCR tests, will still need to remain in place for now.
Shapps also shared the good news that if lateral flow is a no go, "a Government approved provider is planning to launch a £45 PCR test"
This would be a huge cost saving, here in my region, the cheapest day 2 and day 8 post travel testing kit would set me back a staggering £180.
I for one am delighted that they are at least #exploring the use of lateral flow as an alternative to PCR testing, and am over the #moon that if PCR has to stay it will be at an affordable cost to all.
Still on course to reopen travel on the 17th of May.
Shapps also revealed the #awesome news that the UK is still on course to lift its travel ban on 17 May, but we will need to wait for the announcement early next month by the Global Task Force to find out which countries will make the highly coveted Green list, where no quarantine is required, just the two post travel COVID tests.
His aim is of course for the traffic light system to be a temporary short term solution, to help get international travel and aviation back on its feet again. Review dates for the system will take place at the end of June, end of July and once again in October.
Encouragingly Grant Shapps stated "islands in the Mediterranean with low COVID rates could make it on to the ‘green list’," even if the mainland has higher infection rates.
He said he is keen to incorporate the ‘islands policy’, which was first introduced last #summer, to allow quarantine-free travel within the Government’s new traffic light system.
Hearing this, I feel #Malta is still very much in the running to make the green list!
I previously reported that #Jet2 took the very bold move to cancel all of their flights and holidays up until the 23rd of June. However last week both #TUI and #Easyjet Holidays confirmed that they still planned to resume operations on the 17th of May, pending of course the lifting of the Governments travel ban.
Reassuringly Shapps also confirmed plans for the rumoured "watchlist" which will negate the risk of a short notice closure of your holiday destination. The rumour being a 7 day notice period which will of course put the minds of those on short breaks and 7 day holiday durations at rest.
“We’re going to have a Green watchlist to try to give people more of an indication if there are concerns which might lead to quarantine later.
“We don’t currently have an Amber watchlist category because people are already required to quarantine.”
He also confirmed vaccination certificates “will be part of international travel” and stated that NHSX, a joint unit which brings together teams from NHS England, NHS Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care, to drive the #digital transformation of care, (basically a digital developer) was “working exactly on that”.
Let's all keep our fingers and toes crossed my lovelies for the early May announcement, until then, I'm happy to #celebrate the first baby step with the promise of reduced price testing.
That announcement alone is very good news indeed.
I'm sharing the link to the webinar in its entirety here, its an interesting listen with some super speakers.
Until the next good news bulletin, 😉 take care and stay safe