Tag: approach

New 7-Day ‘Test And Release’ Approach And Heathrow Rapid Covid-19 Testing

London’s Heathrow airport launched a new service Tuesday to rapidly test for Covid-19 before passengers depart on their flights. Simultaneously, the U.K. government has announced plans to slash quarantine on international arrivals from 14 days to one week.

It is hoped that both schemes will encourage passengers back in the air.

The UK’s first rapid pre-flight Covid-19 testing facility will cost £80 ($104) with results taking around an hour to complete–Oxford LAMP tests are being used. LAMP tests, unlike others, do not need to go to a laboratory to be processed.

Collinson and logistics firm Swissport described the pre-departure testing regime as the “crucial next step toward keeping the travel industry moving while limiting the spread of the virus”, as reported in The Telegraph.

The testing will be located at terminals 2 and 5 for passengers traveling to destinations that require pre-departure testing, notably Hong Kong and Italy, as reported by CNN. The trial will take place for 4 weeks, used by airlines British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Cathay Pacific, and will record passenger and airline take up.

Skyscanner polled 3,525 U.K. travelers as to their thoughts on Heathrow’s new rapid testing facility and discovered that 69% of them would be prepared to pay for a test in order to be able to travel and avoid quarantine upon arrival.

An additional study by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) found that 86% of Britons say they are willing to be tested to facilitate travel, quoted in The Telegraph.

The U.K. transport secretary, speaking at an aviation conference Airlines 2050 on Monday 19 October, announced that a new testing system would be introduced by December 1 to allow quarantine to be slashed from 14 to 7 days for travelers arriving back in the country.

It was coined a “domestic ‘test and release’ approach” where travelers returning from overseas would quarantine for 7 days and then be allowed to take a Covid-19 test, available through the private sector. If the result was negative, international travelers would be allowed to end their period of self-isolation. 78% of U.K. travelers polled by Skyscanner said that this would make them more likely to travel abroad to certain countries.

Hugh Aitken, VP of Skyscanner stated that the “a combination of reduced quarantine length and more airport testing measures could mean we see more travellers feeling confident to travel to their favourite places again without being heavily impacted on their return.”

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As we approach the holiday travel season, is it safe to travel yet?

Ron Williams wants to know if it’s safe to travel yet.

At 72, he’s in a high-risk group that makes him especially vulnerable to a coronavirus infection. But even if he weren’t, what kind of trip would it be?

“My wife and I like hanging out at the pool and visiting museums and shopping,” says Williams, a retired bank manager who lives in Ocala, Florida. “All of these activities are severely restricted or fraught with risk.”

He adds, “I’m not sure when we’ll travel again.”

Williams’ question is all too common. And it’s not the first time I’ve tried to answer it. This is the time of year when many Americans begin to think about holiday trips, spring break and maybe even next summer’s vacation. (For those of you who skipped this summer’s vacation, you have probably already started planning.)

Hit the road or plan a staycation

Bill McIntyre, a spokesperson for Global Rescue, a medical and security response service for travelers, says internal surveys of the organization’s members indicate a readiness to get back on the road. “Most travelers already have plans to go somewhere domestically by year’s end, and a majority say they’ll travel internationally sometime in 2021,” McIntyre says.

Talk to medical experts, and they will tell you to stay close to home. Manisha Juthani, an infectious-disease specialist at Yale University School of Medicine, says a person who wants to take one to two weeks off should make it a staycation or road trip, at least for now. “I personally do not recommend traveling far from home,” she says.

Juthani says the highly infectious nature of the novel coronavirus is to blame for her travel advisory. Outbreaks continue across the country, in part because people are traveling. One sign that it is safer to travel is if the test positivity rate at your destination is around 1%.

“If we can drive rates down everywhere in the country to around 1%, maybe we could travel with very low risk of bringing the virus elsewhere,” she says. “That’s the only way we will be able to travel again safely before a vaccine is available.”

The major benchmarks for travel safety

Of course, many Americans are already traveling, albeit cautiously.

“One of the trends we have already seen is increased travel by car and a real increase in people traveling in recreational vehicles with their families,” says Dale Bratzler, the University of Oklahoma’s chief COVID-19 officer.

But what about flying? “Airline travel is most certainly safer now than it was at the start of the pandemic,” Bratzler says. “However, transmission of the infection has clearly been documented during flights. If you are traveling by plane, you need to make sure you wear a mask from the time you arrive at the airport until you leave the airport at your destination.”

Despite these and other best practices for staying safe in transit, many travelers are unwilling to risk it until we reach one — or all — of the major benchmarks

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