A new Global Travel Taskforce to support the travel industry and the safe recovery of international travel has been launched by the UK government.
The Department for Transport and the Department of Health and Social Care say they have been working extensively with clinicians, health experts and the private testing sector on the practicalities of testing international arrivals.
The government says the next step is to develop an operationalized approach, which is why it is creating the Global Travel Taskforce to work at pace with industry on implementation, and to identify options to reduce the self-isolation period while protecting public health. It is hoped the taskforce will accelerate work to inform proposals on a future testing regime and develop options for how this could be introduced.
The government notes this will include looking at the feasibility of proposals based on a single test taken after a period of self-isolation, provided by the private sector and at the cost of the passenger. The taskforce will work with medical experts to better understand when a test should be taken based on the progression of the disease. It will also work closely with the private testing sector to ensure that testing for international arrivals does not affect NHS capacity.
It will also explore alternative testing models, including pilots with partner countries to ascertain whether self-isolation could be undertaken pre-departure. The taskforce, which will be jointly chaired by the Secretaries of State for Transport and Health and Social Care, will also consider other options to boost safe and sustainable tourism and business travel, supporting the sector in its recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps commented, “Our understanding of the science now means we can intensify efforts to develop options for a testing regime and help reinvigorate our world-leading travel sector. This new taskforce will not only help us move towards safer, smoother international travel as we continue to battle this virus but will also support global connectivity – helping facilitate more Covid-secure travel while protecting the population from imported cases.”
The group claims it will consult closely with partners from the aviation, travel, healthcare and testing sectors as well as the devolved administrations to implement measures to support the recovery of the travel sector. The taskforce is expected to put forward their initial recommendations next month.