Holidays: ‘Batch testing’ for holidaymakers could ‘lower cost’ of safe travel

Grant Shapps says easing UK travel restrictions is 'off the cards'

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Hotel quarantine, triple testing and ramped up fines for those breaking restrictions are the latest travel restrictions imposed by the Government in the battle against coronavirus. However, travel expert Craig Ashford from online travel agent TravelUp told believes more needs to be done to boost consumer “confidence” in the future.

“The decision to enforce quarantine in hotels for passengers arriving in the UK is a huge blow for the travel sector – but at least the government is acting decisively for once,” he said.

“It gives hotels an opportunity to play their part in the pandemic and will provide some much-needed employment.

“However, it is disappointing that the government has not laid out long term plans for the travel sector.”

Though holidays are illegal during lockdown, it is not known whether these rules will be in place even once restrictions have begun to ease domestically.

Currently, hotel quarantine will set customers back a whopping £1,570 for their mandatory stay.

Travellers must also pay for private tests to facilitate travel which can often cost as much as £200.

Mr Ashford points out that, for most, this cost is unreachable. Instead, he is calling for the Government to consider “batch testing”.

He explained: “Batch testing is a process where samples are sorted into pools when they arrive at lab facilities, with family members and roommates pooled together.

“This means up to 10 people can be tested at one time, bringing down costs in a similar way as a ‘bulk discount’.

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“The moment one person receives a positive result, the additional tests in the pool are assumed to be positive too.

“This could speed up the process and make things cheaper.”

He continued: “For travel businesses to survive, we need bold plans and innovative options.

“We need robust testing with a clear list of approved companies. It is also crucial that we bring the cost of Covid tests down.

“At the moment, private tests for COVID-19 cost anything from £60 to over £200. That is too much.

“We need to work together to make testing as cheap and reliable as possible.”

However, the expert said this method can not be employed by the UK alone.

“We desperately need the government to act thoughtfully and strategically,” he said.

“With a coordinated international approach, there is hope to secure the survival of the travel industry.”

Though Mr Ashford is an advocate of testing, he admits it “isn’t a bulletproof solution but it is better than nothing.”

“We need these measures, and the subsequent data, in place to be able to track the virus,” he said.

“The other benefit is that it will help to restore faith in air travel and to provide a longer-term solution to living with coronavirus.

“We have to learn to live with the virus for the foreseeable future and even a mass rollout of vaccines will not solve everything.

“We need testing that can rely on and which will allow people to travel to and from the UK with confidence once again.”

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