Heathrow Airport announces Covid-19 testing that could avoid need to quarantine

Heathrow Airport has announced a new Covid-19 testing facility which it hopes can bring an end to the compulsory 14-day quarantine period for arriving travellers.

At present, the UK government is imposing a mandatory quarantine for people returning from certain at risk countries.

But the new procedure would mean arriving passengers will be able to book swab tests and have results sent to them in seven hours under the proposal, which is being used in Germany and Iceland.

Travellers can do a second test at home a few days later and then leave quarantine early if they pass both checks, the Daily Mail reported.

Heathrow executives hope those testing negative could leave quarantine five to eight days after landing.

But the airport’s programme – which it hopes will help "protect the economy" – needs Government approval before it can begin.

It comes as The Daily Telegraph reported Cabinet ministers are due to meet next week to discuss plans to replace blanket quarantines with Covid-19 testing for travellers.

Documents released on Friday from Sage’s June 18 meeting showed the scientific group found “double testing of travellers significantly reduces the risk of false negatives and could enable quarantine duration of less than 14 days”.

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Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye has been calling on the Government to introduce testing as an alternative to quarantine for months.

He said: “Heathrow is ready to support this provided the Government sets clear guidelines for a second test and changes regulations to allow passengers who provide two negative tests to leave quarantine early.

“We have worked closely with aviation services company Collinson and logistics firm Swissport to ensure such a testing procedure can be in place.

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"If the Government is serious about protecting the economy, this is exactly what should be done.”

Mr Holland-Kaye said double-testing “could have been in place for those caught up in the French problems last weekend”.

“It is not too late to save people returning from Greece, Croatia or Italy the inconvenience of 14 days at home,” he added.

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