Grant Shapps suggests new testing rules to start before half-term

The transport secretary has expressed a desire to end “instant changes” to travel requirements and suggested that new testing measures would be in place for half-term.

Industry leaders and trade associations have called for the government to implement changes, including relaxed testing requirements, in time for the October break.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Grant Shapps said the Department of Health and Social Care (DoH) would give more details on testing requirements, adding: “I am sure that they [DoH] will have had half-term in mind.”

Travellers in transit who remain in airports or railway stations will only be required to adopt measures associated with the country that they departed from, Shapps added.

He said: “We are now in the world where we know that vaccinations make a very big and sustained difference and I hope we move away from a world in which instant changes are required.

“I cannot absolutely guarantee that, but I think we can see by the direction of movement that things are coming on to a more sustainable footing.”

Shapps also told MPs that entry rules for fully-vaccinated passengers from Canada and Japan would be eased from October 4.

He said: “We will now expand the policy to an array of other countries including Canada and Japan for those that can demonstrate their fully vaccinated status. That will bring the number of countries and territories in scope to 50.

“I can tell the House that we are in the final stages of doing this with our friends in the United Arab Emirates.”

On the travel industry, Shapps said that the measures would give those in the sector “a much-needed boost”.

“We will further review these measures in the new year when we hope to be in a different context that will allow us to go that step further ahead of booking windows in the spring and summer of 2022,” he said.

The US’s chief medical officer has also given British travellers who have received AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine a timely boost ahead of the country’s reopening.

Dr Anthony Fauci, speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, said he could not see why the AstraZeneca vaccine would not be accepted by the US and added the US wanted “a uniform policy” for all countries.

However, he reminded listeners that the final decision about which vaccines would be accepted would be made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Asked about the AstraZeneca vaccine, Fauci said: “I think that is going to be something that is going to be worked out.

“I imagine it will be depending on the data that comes in. Right now, I do not believe that there is a reason for people that have received the AZ vaccine should feel like there’s going to be any problem for them.”

Fauci also outlined how children and people that cannot get the vaccine because of “special circumstances” would be exempt from certain pandemic entry requirements.

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