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Shapps rules out pre-arrival tests as new curbs risk ‘killing off’ travel sector

Pre-arrival Covid tests for travellers entering the UK have been ruled out by the transport secretary.

Grant Shapps said the government does not want to “kill off the travel sector without knowing that you need to”.

He also urged families to book holidays overseas as long as they have insurance and that so-called vaccine passports will become the “norm for travel”.

The UK does not currently require pre-departure tests for anyone flying into the UK from overseas and Shapps said he hoped this would not change.

He told The Telegraph’s weekly Chopper’s Politics podcast: “Do you want to kill off the travel sector again without knowing that you need to? Or do you want to take the right level of calibrated response?

“This government thinks we should take a calibrated response, which doesn’t take us right back to the beginning of this [pandemic].

“I believe in transport and I don’t want to see a world where we’re always finding excuses to restrict it. Of course, you’ve got to respond responsibly. That’s what I think we’ve done.”

Shapps added that vaccine passports were going to become the “norm for travel” like the requirement to use yellow fever certificates to enter some tropical countries.

He said: “The norm for travel globally is going to be ‘have you been vaccinated’ in the same way as for many years if you want to go to certain countries, you can’t go without a yellow fever certificate.”

Shapps denied the UK had overreacted to the threat of the Omicron variant and insisted that the response – to place some countries on the red list and require face masks to be worn in shops, buses and trains – was “calibrated”.

Families should book overseas holidays as long as tickets were flexible “and that where you stay respects whatever is happening at the time – go book. But just know that you’ve got the insurance in place”.

Scientists in the Ministry of Defence’s Porton Down laboratory were currently evaluating the Omicron variant and would know more in just over a fortnight, he said.

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