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Travel industry insiders have called in their masses for airport testing as the key to saving the currently struggling industry. In recent months both Heathrow Airport and Ryanair have called for coronavirus tests to be conducted on passengers in order to allow them to fly again.
According to John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport: “It would allow us to reduce the time of quarantine because you can be tested for the virus but be at a very early stage of infection and not be showing any symptoms, so based on the medical advice I’ve been given there need to be two tests.
“The first [test] at the airport.
“Then the passenger would go to quarantine at their home, they give their information to the track and trace system in the UK, then after five or eight days – whichever the government is comfortable with, they have a second test at an NHS facility and if they were clear they would be allowed out of quarantine earlier than if this was not the case.
”This is a method which is already being put in place at Jersey, the biggest of the Channel Islands.
So far the island has spent around £5 million on conducting tests in order to restimulate tourism while attempting to keep its residents safe from new transmissions.
Currently, Jersey is categorising arrivals based on the “risk” they pose.
All passengers, regardless of where they have come from, however, must either present a coronavirus test taken in the 72 hours prior to travel or take a test at the airport.
However, there are additional measures for some passengers.
Passengers arriving from destinations with low coronavirus figures are categorised as “Green”.
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This means they must be tested on arrival, but will not have to self-isolate.
They must, however, keep to social distancing, wear a face mask in crowded places and avoid indoor attractions.
Passengers from areas with posting a somewhat higher “risk” are classified as “Amber”.
They will also receive a PCR test on arrival but must self-isolate for five days.
On the fifth day, they will take a second test, and if this is negative, they are free to no longer self-isolate.
Finally, high “risk” areas are classed as “Red”.Arrivals from these locations must test on arrival and then enter into a mandatory period of 14-days quarantine.
The colour codes are constantly changing, so travellers must stay up-to-date with amendments on the Jersey website.
In my case, I was arriving from a “Green” destination, which meant that I only had to endure one coronavirus test.
The testing process did add on some time at arrivals, though the medical team worked at a rapid pace to collect everyone’s information and get through the process as quickly as possible.
Passengers were required to fill out a form with their personal details ahead up to 72 hours before travel.
They are then emailed a QR code, which was scanned at the airport by staff.
Admittedly, I was a little bit nervous before my test, having heard all kinds of horror stories about swabbing.
Luckily, there is plenty of privacy, with each test conducted in a personal booth away from the eyes of other holidaymakers.
Staff were also very reassuring and talked through the process before conducting the test.
The test itself took just a few seconds and was painless, though could be considered slightly uncomfortable by some.
It included a swab at the back of the throat near to the tonsils, and then a slight sweep around each nostril.
Following this, we were free to collect our bags and leave as usual, though we did maintain social distancing as much as possible until our results came through.
The Government of Jersey also stays in touch throughout your visit, requiring tourists to respond to daily texts notifying of any new symptoms.
Though this idea has not been proposed globally in union with airport testing, it certainly seems like a good method.
Passengers are warned results can take up to three days, which may be concerning for those on shorter breaks, however, ours took just 24 hours.We were notified via text of our negative results, meaning we were free to enjoy restaurants, pubs and indoor attractions.
The wider UK Government has yet to enforce mass airport testing, though Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has cited it as a crucial necessity to help return the travel industry to its former glory.
“Testing is the only way forward here,” he told the BBC.
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