October 21, 2020
Covid Airport Testing Begins
For those of us in the travel & tourism sector there have been very few reasons to be cheerful of late. Like so many other industries, the effects of Covid-19 have been both swift and significant. However, it is our sincere hope that skiers & snowboarders from the UK will be able to take a holiday during this winter if they wish.
Without becoming too political, it has long been the feeling of many in the tourism sector that the UK government’s response to the pandemic has fallen way short of what is needed. For an industry hit so hard by the initial outbreak, the decision to arbitrarily place countries on quarantine lists all but destroyed the crucial summer holiday season for most companies.
It had been feared that the winter ski season would suffer a similar fate. France and Italy being placed on quarantine lists meant the chance of a European holiday was looking more remote for the majority of people. However, in the last week there has been a small glimmer of hope for our beloved ski holidays.
Airport and airlines have long been calling for an effective passenger testing system as a viable replacement for 14-day quarantine rules. Having seen passengers fall by nearly 90% across the board this was certainly well-needed.
This week Heathrow airport opened the first rapid Covid-19 test for passengers flying to Hong Kong (full story at theguardian.com). Pre-booked tests costing £80 are available at check-in, and results are provided within the hour.
It is hoped that this test will allow passengers going to Italy to enter the country unhindered in the very near future. More countries are also looking at the possibilities these rapid tests provide for safe international travel. Easyjet and Gatwick airport are also quoted by The Guardian as examining the possibility of testing for their customers very soon.
It is certainly early days for the scheme, and adding an extra £80 per person to a holiday will discourage some people, but it’s great to have at least some positive new for the aviation industry in the UK. Similarly a ‘test and release’ system has been touted as an effective way to cut quarantine times for travellers coming back into the UK. Transport secretary Grant Shapps has said this will be ready by 1st December, but others have questioned this date (full story at theguardian.com).
Of course we recognise that there are plenty of other industries that have taken huge hits in 2020 and that need serious help to recover too. Hopefully this is one step towards getting the travel sector back up and running and aiding the country’s economic recovery at the same time – and if we manage to get a ski holiday this year because of it then that’s just an added bonus!