Minister Defends Decision To Scrap Covid Testing For Fully Vaccinated Travellers
The aviation minister Robert Courts has defended the decision to scarp all Covid testing for full-vaccinated travellers (Alamy)
The aviation minister Robert Courts has rejected suggestions the decision to scrap all Covid testing for fully vaccinated travellers was a political one rather than being based on the science.
From today, fully vaccinated passengers will no longer have to take a test two days after their arrival in the UK, while those who have had fewer than two Covid vaccinations won’t need to self-isolate anymore, but will have to still take tests.
There has been criticism that the relaxation of travel rules has been implemented too early, given the levels of coronavirus infection across Europe and in other holiday destinations, in order to divert attention from ongoing scandal surrounding the Prime Minister.
But Courts defended the move as “safe” for the UK and was not “motivated by political decisions” over robust scientific evidence.
"This has been a decision that has been coming along for some time," he told Sky News.
“Of course we look at the science, we are guided very strongly by that, but there are a number of other factors that we have to take into account as well.”
He cited “the incredible success of the vaccine rollout” as a justification for the government having taken this step, and pointed towards declining infection and hospitalisation rates.
It is hoped the move will help to revive the badly damaged aviation sector, which was one of the worst hit during the pandemic due to the shutdown of worldwide travel for much of the past two years.
Courts was however unable to provide an "exact figure" of the number of people he represents in the sector when challenged by LBC's Nick Ferrari, but believed it was likely to be "tens of thousands".
“Clearly this has been a very difficult period for the aviation sector. There’s no two ways about that,” Courts added.
“The key thing today is that people realise they can get out and travel again.”
Today’s changes to the travel rules have been described by trade organisation Abta as "a new chapter" for the industry's recovery. Transport secretary Grant Shapps said scrapping testing ahead of school half term was "good news" for those wishing to travel abroad.
"The UK has eased international travel measures for Covid-19 and now has one of the most free-flowing borders in the world – sending a clear message that we are open for business," he said.
Gatwick Airport has announced it will reopen its south terminal next month, which has sat dormant since June 2020, to meet expected strong demand for air travel this summer.
Stansted Airport has also told Abta it is expecting around 200,000 passengers to depart in the next seven days, while Eurostar said more than 125,000 people are booked to travel during half-term.
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