Policy Spotlight with Rhouda: The easing of testing rules for travellers to England

The last few weeks of 2021 saw great uncertainty amongst the British public as Omicron cases surged and further restrictions were being considered. Businesses on the road to recovery faced fears of being closed down again as well as increased staff shortages. Chambers across the network were joined by their members to urge the government to provide financial support and clarification of likely upcoming changes in business operation.

One of the most impacted sectors throughout the pandemic has been the travel industry, as testing rules constantly change people fear travelling and spending extra money on multiple PCR tests.

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a change in testing regulations which is expected to help boost the travel industry. The easing of rules for people travelling to England will make it easier for people to book holidays and will ultimately reduce the costs of travelling. The changes implemented will mean that people travelling to England will no longer have to take a test two days before travelling from countries outside of the UK and the Common Travel Area. Travellers arriving to the UK will only be required to take a lateral flow test instead of a PCR test on day two of being in the UK. This however will need to be a private test, rather than a free NHS test.

Passengers who are unvaccinated must still take a pre-departure PCR test, PCR test on day two and day eight, as well as self-isolation for 10 days.

Sara Williams, CEO of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “The latest government announcement is promising news for many firms in the travel industry and should act as a timely boost after r a period of great uncertainty. The extortionate cost of travelling was suppressing customer demand and preventing a full recovery in the sector.

“Whilst the Chambers recognises the importance of controlling and minimising the spread of the virus, recent evidence has suggested that, despite the rapid spread of the variant, hospital cases are much lower than they were at the start of the pandemic. It is essential that cases continue to be monitored and appropriate restrictions are put in place when needed.”

As spring approaches, it is essential that the government sets out a strategy that will allow us to prepare for any further changes or limitations placed on business operations.

It’s pleasing to see that all eligible businesses in the hospitality, leisure and accommodation sectors are now able to apply for funding from the government’s multimillion-pound support package from their local councils.

As the spread of the Omicron variant continues to increase across the UK consumer confidence has taken a massive hit as a result of the restrictions introduced as part of plan B. Therefore, it is essential that the rollout of the funding takes place as quickly as possible to the businesses that need it the most. We urge all firms to apply in the coming weeks and to make the most of the grants and support that is available to them.

If you require any business support or advice, get in touch with Staffordshire Chambers of commerce on 01782 202222 or email info@staffordshirechambers.co.uk.

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