UK Quarantine Changes On the Way?
7th October 2020
Last modified on October 21st, 2020
It is the single biggest restriction on the ski industry for next winter after Covid-19 itself. If current quarantine measures are in place it will decimate the winter for many UK skiers and snowboarders. It seems changes are coming but not soon enough for many.
People arriving in the UK from abroad may be able to end their 14-day self-isolation early, as part of plans to be considered by a new taskforce set up by the government.
The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said the taskforce will look at introducing a Covid-19 testing system for travellers to the UK from countries deemed at risk.
It has received a cautious welcome by some in the travel industry but many want more and they want it to report quickly as the industry struggles.
They stressed action is needed now to stem job losses and business closures.
Some ask why it has taken so long for the government to act.
Some in the snowsports industry are giving it a cautious welcome, while others see it as window-dressing that will not deal with the fundamental problems.
We have reaction further down this article.
First the details.
Currently those people coming back to the UK from the vast majority of ski countries are required to quarantine.
On PlanetSKI we have recently reported on the measures needed for people coming back from ski countries and the requirements for arriving in them.
Italy and Sweden are exceptions but that is likely to change soon.
So, what are the likely new changes?
It certainly has a positive sounding name – The Global Travel Taskforce.
But it will be judged on results not its name.
The plans to be considered by the taskforce include giving travellers the option of paying for a coronavirus test a few days after they arrive back in the UK.
A negative result would mean people could end their quarantine period early.
The taskforce will also consider whether people could self-isolate before travelling abroad, instead of upon arrival.
People would likely have to pay for their own tests to avoid impacting NHS capacity.
Airline and airport bosses reiterated calls to replace quarantine altogether, with a comprehensive testing system.
The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps and Health Secretary, Matt Hancock will lead the so-called Global Travel Taskforce.
It will look at:
- How a testing regime for international arrivals could be implemented, including exactly when passengers would be tested
- How to raise consumer confidence to support the recovery of international travel
- What “innovate testing models and other non-testing means” could boost travel
The group is expected to report back in November.
The retention of the 14-day quarantine period until at least November has exasperated many.
For the snowsports industry it is hopefully a step in the right direction as winter approaches.
But some feel it is too little and far too late.
Many think that this should have been set up many months ago.
“More chaos, more confusion,” said the MD of Ski Solutions, Craig Burton.
“We are now 7 months in to this Covid crisis and the travel industry, both inbound and outbound is on life support.
“We need decisive and bold decision-making, and we need it quickly.
“It’s a disgrace that we keep kicking this testing decision down the road when other European nations have grasped the nettle.
“I only hope this so called ‘Global Travel Taskforce’ has proper representation from across the industry, and isn’t just Hancock, Shapps and ‘the scientists’ making decisions about a sector they have proven to know little about.”
“We would like to see skiers and snowboarders being able to take their holidays this winter without having to spend unnecessary time in quarantine,” said Danielle Fenton, the managing director of Time of Your Life Travel who operate the Ski Amis brand.
“Whilst we understand that the government has a duty to stem the spread of the virus, we welcome any approach that represents a step in the right direction for the industry.
“As always, we will wait for confirmation before getting too excited about potential measures that may be implemented.”
“This farcical “task force” is yet another specious attempt to look like they’re doing something for travel,” said Richard Sinclair from the ski agent, SNO.
“In the months since quarantines were first announced, we’ve seen exactly three bookings (in a multi-million pound travel agency trying to support many jobs) and dozens of cancellations from clients who don’t have the confidence to pay when their balance is due.
“We’re running out of time to save this winter ski holiday season, and the govt kicking airport-testing at least a month down the road is another wilful act of sabotage against the travel industry.
“In addition, none of the airport testing etc matters if the govt don’t also stop the FCO advice not-to-travel, because tour operators can’t take people away on holiday against that advice.
“On top of that, most travel insurance is invalid if you travel against FCO advice (including the ones who are starting to cover Covid).
“The simple truth is that our government doesn’t understand the travel industry and doesn’t care enough to learn properly.”
And ski resorts have reacted too.
“I can only echo what others say, we need to find a solution around testing to enable skiers to travel and ensure the travel industry can survive through this pandemic,” said Sara Burden from the Morzine tourist office.
” All research shows us skiers want to ski, but are understandably reluctant to book when they are unsure if they can travel.
“To ensure peoples’ much wanted holidays for years to come we need to find a solution before the winter season starts.”
See here for the measures Morzine is putting in place for next winter.
The Shadow Transport Secretary, Jim McMahon, said the government had been “incompetently slow to react”.
“They’ve had months to set up a taskforce, months to look into airport testing and months to sort out the flaws of their quarantine proposals”.
The UK snowsports industry and us skiers and snowboarders await practical results.
Heathrow Airport, EasyJet, Virgin Atlantic and Manchester Airports Group called for urgent action in a joint statement, with a test on day five ‘the starting point’.
“Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction by the UK Government to restart the economy and protect thousands of jobs across the country,” the statement said.
“We support the decision to opt for a single test, private sector-led, passenger-funded approach, that does not impact on the NHS in any way. But travellers need a firm commitment that a comprehensive testing regime will be implemented in early November.
“A test on day five, which the Government’s own conservative evidence said would be ‘highly effective’ and which they’re already doing in Germany, should be the starting point.
“We encourage the Government to take a lead in moving to pre-departure testing, as well as the approval of new testing technologies, as soon as possible.
“Without a rapid move to testing, the UK will fall even further behind our competitors and the economic recovery will fail to get off the ground.”
There has been reaction to quarantine from PlanetSKI readers on social media.
Feel free to add your views over on our Facebook page.
Whatever the conclusions of the Taskforce and measures implemented, returning to the UK is only half the journey to go skiing or snowboarding.
The are already restrictions on entering some ski nations, and these are expected to increase as Covid-19 spreads in the UK.
Switzerland has imposed a quarantine on people entering from the UK.
People who have visited the UK in the past 10 days from arrival are required to quarantine for 10 days.
In Scandinavia, Norway has a similar 10-day quarantine period while in Finland people need to produce a negative test certificate from the previous 72-hours.
They then have to quarantine for 72-hours and take another test when the period ends.
The USA has a ban on entering, as does Canada though it has just introduced some exceptions.