Aviation quarantine moves welcomed as just the first step of the journey

Bosses of the region’s two biggest airports have welcomed moves to cut passenger quarantine periods – but insisted it is only the first step on the road to more normalised travel.

The Government today announced new measures than mean travellers arriving in England from countries with high infection rates can shorten their quarantine from 14 days to five if they test negative for coronavirus on the fifth day.

But the Department of Transport said passengers will have to pay for the tests themselves, and will need to book with one of the private providers on the Government’s list. Prices range from £65 to £120.

John Irving, chief executive of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, said: “We are naturally pleased to hear that the Government has recognised the need to help our industry and this is an encouraging step in the right direction.

“However, further improvements to this test and release system will still need to be made in order to see passengers return to flying in far greater numbers. In the short term cheaper and quicker tests are needed and to ultimately eliminate any need for quarantine altogether.2

He added: “With airlines planning to operate flights to over 30 destinations from Liverpool in the run up to Christmas, today’s announcement will make it more attractive for passengers looking to travel from here over the coming weeks.

“The Government’s decision to also provide some long-awaited financial support specific to our industry is welcome news, too. This much needed financial assistance is vital as we look to face the challenging months ahead and hopefully see the start of what will undoubtedly be a slow recovery.”

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Manchester Airports Group, said: “To support a strong recovery in air travel next year, consumers and businesses will need widespread access to rapid and affordable tests when they return from countries where quarantine requirements apply.

“The regime the Government has announced from 15 December is a good first step towards getting our country flying again. The ability to reduce quarantine time by more than a week will make travel easier and start to give people confidence to book trips in the weeks ahead.”

But he added: “To be world-leading, the Government must now work quickly with the aviation industry to refine the regime and introduce faster and cheaper tests, as well as innovative measures to further shorten or eliminate the need to self-isolate.

“The latest public health analysis shows that shorter quarantine periods are actually more effective, particularly when they are accompanied by rapid turnaround tests that get people their results quickly.

“Coupled with a dedicated financial support package, that is what is needed to kick-start the recovery of the aviation sector and protect as many jobs as possible.

“With that in mind, news of relief from business rates for airports in England – as seen elsewhere in the UK and in other sectors of the economy – is a welcome development and we look forward to hearing further information.”