Travellers Using UK Airline Industry & Agencies Disappointed with Covid Test Scheme
The UK government’s new Covid test scheme — “Test to Release” has become a subject of criticism amongst not just the UK airline industry, but also multiple travel and tour agencies. Launched to lure travellers this Christmas season, the scheme offered people a chance to cut the 10-day-self-isolation by showing a Covid-19 negative test post five days of arrival.
Formerly optimistic about the future outcomes of new Covid test scheme, the UK airline industry has recently complained about the government’s lack of consultation with them over this matter. Dejected by the results of the scheme, CEO of Ryanair — Michael O’Leary said, “Nothing that the Johnson government does surprises me. They promised a world-class test and tracing system. All they have delivered is world-class incompetence”.
Unlike former claims of improving inbound testing perspective, the Covid test scheme became an example of the government’s lack of preparedness. Despite the partially failed execution, the Gatwick airport authorities are awaiting the approval of their own test centre hoping to boost Christmas bookings.
Those planning to book fights at the behest of the Covid test scheme were disappointed at the launch as several of the 12 government approved providers that were offering this scheme were not able to serve customers. Some complained of crashed websites, others were run out of tests or simply not accepting bookings.
Two travel firms offering the Covid test scheme — SameDayDoctor and The Private GP Clinic stated their inability to offer tests for returning travellers. Those trying to book tests under the scheme claimed that the website of Oncologica (another provider) had crashed early in the morning, making the entire process more cumbersome than claimed.
In response to this chaos, the UK airport authorities claimed that the country’s economic recovery is heavily dependent on an early resumption of the international business travel. The current situation demands the government to allow providers (already offering testing service) to be a part of the new Covid test scheme, which would ultimately reduce the burden of the 12 providers and also ease the travellers’ experiences.
Experts have also raised questions about the worth of the ‘Test to Release’ scheme as test results might take 24 to 48 hours after reaching the laboratory, making the five-day process even longer.
Speaking about the problems he faced on entering England via the Eurotunnel, a Netherlands-based UK citizen Michael Smith said that he planned his visit considering the benefits of the new Covid test scheme. Despite efforts, he was unable to verify the identity of approved providers. Unable to book a test, he wasn’t able to meet his mother, who is a dementia patient. There are many travellers like him who are angry with the scheme’s launch, deferring it to be ‘just hot air’.
Although expected to boost traveller confidence, the Covid test scheme has led to additional chaos. In an optimistic turn of events, travellers visiting Birmingham might soon be able to enjoy dine-in service at Tier 3 restaurants. Currently, operating only via takeaways, the hospitality sector is elated to hear this pilot project. This project is a ray of hope for the hospitality and event sector hoping to get things moving again.
Since just a day has passed to the launch of the Covid test scheme, only future turn of events will unfold the actual worth of the release of this system.