The United Kingdom announced a waiver that would allow travelers to abbreviate quarantine requirements that could potentially make foreigners freer in Britain than its own people.
The UK Announced a Shorter Quarantine Period for Travelers
In an effort to bolster international travel and drive international business, Britain is announcing a “Test to Release” program. Current standards require visitors to isolate for 14 days with penalties for violators that range from £100-10,000 and could include exclusion from the country for many years.
However, the UK’s new program would allow visitors to test upon arriving in England (and Northern Ireland.) The passenger must organize the test before they leave but this is not pre-departure testing. Rather, the (coronavirus) covid-19 test is conducted in the UK, simply arranged in advance. Should the visitor receive a negative test after five days of self-isolating, they would be released and free to move about as they pleased. Results from the in-country tests should take no more than 48 hours but likely half that.
Current Lockdown in the UK
Like France and Germany, the UK has a very strict lockdown policy at the moment. It’s up for review on December 2nd but may extend longer. That has many Britons concerned, not just about the lingering covid-19 infection rates and the public health concern but also for the future of the country’s 60+ million workers and business owners.
As a former resident of the UK, I have been in contact with friends back in Manchester who have given some color to the lockdown. One frustration many have is treatment variances across the country. For example, Manchester’s “R” rate was 33% lower than London’s though the capital still held fewer lockdown restrictions as a Tier 2 instead of Tier 3 city.
Is This What a Travel Corridor Would Look Like?
The UK government has floated the idea of a travel corridor with several countries including the US. The White House, the Department of State and the Secretary of Transportation for the UK, Grant Shapps, are all looking for a way to restore travel and return to the United States.
The idea behind establishing a travel corridors list of safe entry/exit points would be to offer a single point of entry in both countries whereby travelers could move between countries. This would allow for an NHS test and trace model for those who wish to expedite their isolation period.
Safely lifting travel restrictions is even more precarious now than ever before given the recent increases in positive test results.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged caution and final numbers from the holiday weekend may further limit the ability of the two countries to roll out a travel corridor.
Opening the borders not only allows the economy of the UK to continue to rebuild but also the ability for those separated by a continent to freely see loved ones. While supporting the travel industry is a chief concern, safety outranks it, though those wishing to simply observe a two-week quarantine period can still do so.
There is a significant risk that the UK continues a full lockdown as it has now with just essential trips to the store, no cross-household gatherings, and virtually all business ground to a stop. However, should the UK extend the lockdown but open “Test to Release”, visitors to the UK would have more freedom than Britons in their own country. That’s madness.
What do you think? Should the UK allow foreign citizens to have more rights than its own residents? Do you think this is a sign the UK doesn’t intend to maintain its lockdown?