Test to Release scheme kicks off tomorrow – experts applaud ‘step in the right direction’

UK quarantine restrictions to be cut from two weeks to five days

The Government’s new ‘Test to Release’ scheme is set to launch on Tuesday, December 15. Arrivals into the UK from ‘high risk’ nations will now have the option to reduce their 10-day period of mandatory quarantine to just five.

It is a move which is being hailed as a “step in the right direction” for the travel industry and holidays.

Previously, holidaymakers were expected to quarantine for 14 days after arrival.

The new scheme will allow holidaymakers who provide a negative COVID-19 test on day five of their quarantine to stop self-isolating.

According to the Government website: “The scheme is voluntary and applies to those self-isolating in England only.

“If you do not want to opt into the Test to Release scheme, you will need to self-isolate for 10 full days after you were last in a place not on the travel corridors list.”

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Already, the new scheme is said to be boosting confidence among holidaymakers.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Zina Bencheikh, managing director EMEA of Intrepid Travel said: “News of a vaccine and the current quarantine rules being replaced by a testing plan means that customers are feeling more confident to book their 2021 holiday.

“We saw a spike in bookings over the weekend that the Test to Release scheme was first announced, particularly to bucket-list destinations such as Peru and Nepal. Over the next couple of months, I expect to see more and more Brits securing their 2021 holiday – but flexibility and value will be key.

“We are moving in the right direction – however for travel to really open up we still need the FCDO to lift its advice against non-essential travel.

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“There are many countries with low infection rates where the locals are heavily reliant on tourism and they need us to return.”

Similarly, Antony Martin, managing director at Insurefor.com added: “The latest announcement from the UK Government regarding the reduction of quarantine restrictions from 14 days to just five if holidaymakers test negative after returning from a ‘red list’ country is extremely positive news.

“It means families will be more inclined to travel, particularly during the festive season and consumers can start thinking about booking trips in early 2021, knowing that they’ll only have to self-isolate for a short period of time when they return home.

“This announcement combined with the latest developments in vaccinations is hugely promising for the recovery of the travel sector and we can start looking forward to a positive 2021.”

The Government website offers a list of certified test providers for those who want to partake in the new scheme.

However, holiday providers are aiming to make things easier for travellers too.

“We know there is lots of pent up demand from would-be travellers so I’m very pleased to announce that are making it easier for our clients to get tested and secure their all-important ‘Fit to Fly’ certificate,” added Ms Bencheikh.

“We are partnering with Confirm Testing with exclusive pricing so that Intrepid travellers can get postal tests and results both pre- and post-departure – all part of our efforts to simplify the current travel complications and thereby help our clients explore the world safely and benefit local communities across the globe.”

Travellers hoping to take part in the scheme will need to opt into the scheme on the passenger locator form they fill out on arrival into the UK.

They must then book a test prior to this, and provide details of the test in the passenger locator form.

“If you decide to take part in the scheme after you have arrived in England, you will need to complete another passenger locator form,” explains the Government website.

“You will have to pay the private test provider for your test. You will need to book an individual test for each person opting in to test to release, including children.

“The test provider will either send a test to your address or you can attend a testing site. You may leave your house to post your test or to travel directly to and from the testing site. You should follow safer travel guidance and avoid public transport if possible.”

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