Henry Smith MP has hailed today’s Government announcement of a testing strategy for international arrivals into England.
The Crawley MP, whose constituency includes Gatwick Airport, established and chairs the Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group, and has been a leading voice on this issue since first raising the effect of coronavirus on arrivals at Gatwick Airport in January of this year.
“The announcement of a COVID-19 testing regime for international travellers is positive news for our aviation, travel and tourism sectors; it will allow us to restart commercial air travel with confidence once restrictions are lifted.
“It also provides much-needed clarity and certainty which will be essential to these sectors’ recovery from the deeply damaging effects of this pandemic.
“I’m grateful to the Government and the Prime Minister’s Global Travel Taskforce for listening to the calls for testing made by industry and from all sides of the political divide. It’s essential for ensuring that global Britain is open for business and today’s announcement will be warmly welcomed by all.
“UK-wide the pandemic’s impact continues to be devastating on airport communities as well as the aviation, travel and tourism sectors as a whole, but today’s announcement is a very important step in helping these sectors to recover and to play their full role in our national economic recovery.”
This is a call Henry has continued to make; as recently as last week in a parliamentary debate on the future of the aviation industry, the Crawley MP pressed the Aviation Minister on moving on from quarantine and introducing a COVID-19 testing regime.
It has now been confirmed that passengers arriving into England will be able to reduce mandatory self-isolation by up to a week or more, as the Government launches its new strategy for testing international arrivals.
The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has announced that from 15th December, passengers returning to England from countries not featured on the Government’s travel corridor list will have the option to take a test after five days of self-isolation, with a negative test releasing them from the need to isolate.
This move will give passengers the confidence to book international trips in the knowledge that they can return home and only isolate for a shorter period if they have received a negative test. With those opting in to the scheme having to book and pay for a COVID-19 test from a private provider on the GOV.UK list, this initiative ensures NHS Test and Trace testing capacity is protected.
The Government’s announcement marks a further policy victory for Henry and the Future of Aviation APPG, following Government previously confirming the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of March 2021. The Group’s Aviation Recovery Plan had called for sector-specific extension of the furlough scheme until this date.
The Crawley MP has previously called for action on business rates for affected firms. The ‘Test to Release’ scheme is announced as Government introduces a new package of financial support for English airports and ground handlers serving them.
This support, which will shore up jobs and reinforce local economies, will be available to commercial airports in England. The support will be equivalent to the business rates liabilities of each business, capped at £8 million per site, and subject to certain conditions, with this scheme opening in the New Year.
Follow Henry daily via: