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Test to Release for international travel goes live

Mark Moran
17 December 2020

Passengers arriving into England can choose to pay for a private test and potentially shorten their self-isolation as the government’s testing strategy for international arrivals goes live.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that passengers arriving from locations not featured on the government’s travel corridor list can, from 15 December, take a private test five full days after leaving the non-exempt place in order to release themselves from self-isolation on receipt of a negative result.

Available as an option for all passengers arriving into England by plane, ferry or train who have been in a ‘non-exempt’ location in the past 10 days, the move will ensure that passengers who receive a negative result on or after day 5 can immediately finish self-isolation, but must continue following the current domestic rules in their local area.

The move is intended give passengers the confidence to book international trips in the knowledge that they can return home and isolate for a shorter period if they receive a negative result.

With those opting into the scheme having to book and pay for a COVID-19 test from a private provider on the GOV.UK list, the government is ensuring NHS Test and Trace testing capacity is protected.

Grant Shapps said: “I’m determined that, when people travel here from abroad, everyone remains safe. The introduction of this day 5 Test to Release scheme is a helpful step in the right direction. It means less time in quarantine, but only in return for a negative COVID test. Good news for those travelling and good news for the wider public too.”

International arrivals must wait for five full days since leaving a location not on the government’s travel corridor list before taking a test from a private provider. This is because a test after five days of self-isolation provides materially better results than having one on arrival, as it allows time for the virus – should it be present – to incubate, helping reduce the risk of a false negative result.


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