Travel: Swapping quarantine for 72hr testing

For thousands of would-be UK travellers in search of Winter Sun, today’s news about testing before re-entry to the UK probably fell on deaf ears. We are not able to leave the country, so why the headlines about what’s changing to get back in! It’s a fair point, but there is a longer term aspect to this.

Firstly, quarantine for travellers was a blunt instrument. You go away for a week and can’t leave the house for two! That was never sustainable, even when the 14 days was reduced to 10. Quarantine was a measure to protect the wider population from imported strains of the virus when no mass testing was available and no vaccine existed.

Spain introduced the 72 hour negative test rule back in November.

Now the vaccine is being rolled out, it seems likely that some sort of vaccine passport maybe the key to opening up travel somewhat in the Spring and Summer. In the meantime with mass testing now accessible,  72 hour pre-travel negative tests provides adequate protection for travel to and from most countries including Spain. Note that for countries on the UK travel red-list, quarantine will still be necessary despite presenting a negative test. There remain a number of practical issues that will need be resolved:

  • How to get the test in a foreign country.
  • The cost of tests, needing one per person per journey leg.
  • Is the responsibility of departures or arrivals to check negative test results?
  • What happens to booked passengers who test positive or whose results don’t arrive back in time.

The new regulations for entry into the UK will come into force some time week commencing 11 January 2021. If there are significant further developments, we will update you further.