Local MP and Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Huw Merriman, welcomed the take-off of international travel in the House of Commons and called on the Government to ensure that airport borders have the necessary resilience to cope with increased passenger numbers.
On Friday, the Transport Secretary announced that:
- From Monday 4 October, the traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries and territories and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world. The rules for travel from countries and territories not on the red list will depend on your vaccination status.
- Fully vaccinated passengers arriving from certain non-red list countries will no longer be required to take a pre-departure test before their arrival into England from Monday 4 October. This comes alongside an expansion of the policy to make travel more seamless for fully vaccinated passengers.
- Later in October, we will move away from day 2 PCR testing to a new system of cheaper lateral flow device tests for fully vaccinated passengers arriving from non-red countries. If passengers test positive, they will then be required to take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller. This will allow us to continue to genome sequence results in order to detect Variants of Concern.
FULL TEXT OF HUW'S QUESTION
Huw Merriman MP:
I welcome the milestones announced by the Secretary of State for Transport. I recognise his hard work as well as that of the aviation Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Robert Courts) and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in unlocking us further. I know you, Mr Deputy Speaker, will be as excited as me about the ability to visit the United States, for loved ones to reunite and for business to expand. This is more welcome news. With all this fantastic news, can I ask the Secretary of State for Transport to ensure that we have the resilience, through border control, at arrivals to ensure that all this demand that is about to be unleashed can be delivered?
The Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP:
My hon. Friend is an excellent Chair of the Select Committee on Transport—always tough, but fair. He has rightly pointed out that there is likely to be a big expansion in the amount of transatlantic and other aviation. Things such as the pre-departure test form will be greatly simplified by not having to prove a Toggle showing location of pre-departure test at check-in. On the other side, coming back into the UK, it is Border Force that runs those services. It has spent a lot of time over the summer integrating pre-departure tests, vaccine status and other information into its e-gates. It is now trying to incorporate that. I will certainly be reflecting his comments in discussions with the Home Office, which runs Border Force and will want to make things as smooth as possible as the numbers pick up.