BRITS and tourists could be ‘tested on arrival’ at airports under a scheme being considered by ministers.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that he was in contact with airport handling firm Swissport who are trialing a scheme to test passengers.
Swissport wants to offer saliva swab tests to arriving travellers before going home or to a hotel to begin self-isolation.
The test result would be known in no more than 24 hours – if it were positive, the passenger would contact the test-and-trace service and complete the two weeks of self-isolation.
Travellers who test negative, the company hopes, will be free to continue life as normal.
The test will cost around £140.
Mr Shapps said he was working with Heathrow and other airports to introduce measures and that he would announce them at the next review of the quarantine policy in around three weeks.
He said: “It is very important that we can ensure that we can provide reassurance to passengers, but also provide something useful with the screening beyond just asking people to take a temperature check.
“We are actively working with Heathrow and other airports to provide exactly those types of schemes in place.”
Speaking in the Commons Tory MP Felicity Buchan asked the Transport Secretary if he would back a Covid-19 testing scheme proposed by Collinson and Swissport.
Mr Shapps replied: “She will be interested to hear I am indeed in touch with Swissport and following those trials and proposals very carefully.
“As I indicated in a question or two back, we do believe it’s important to be able to provide international standards and that may well include specific types of testing – so the answer is yes.”
Tomorrow the Government is expected to formally annouce the air bridges policy will come into force – with up to 75 countries on the list of safe countries.
It will mean that travellers won’t need to isolate for two weeks at home after their return from a holiday.
Travel advice is set to be changed too – scrapping the advice which says it should only be essential.
The air bridges are likely to include most countries in Europe and beyond.
But the air bridges plans faced a last minute hitch last night as ministers scrambled to reassure Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over the measures.
No10 held meetings yesterday with the devolved administrations that are cautious about abandoning the border quarantine policy.
Nicola Sturgeon is said to be “really objecting” to lifting the measures without being properly consulted.
And this morning Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “”I am very keen to get the devolved administrations, including Scotland on board, so we can get this thing announced.”
One industry source said: “The government really wants to make sure Scotland is onside – they do not want another case of mixed messages coming across the border.”
Yesterday the First Minister said if she blocks the measures it will be because she has “very seriously looked at the evidence and decided that isn’t necessary – not for political or constitutional reasons – but necessary from the point of view of tackling the virus.”
But No10 insisted last night the meeting was routine and there was “no drama” over the issue.
A spokesman added the meeting was arranged so devolved administrations were informed of the policy so they could “implement bits of it slightly differently” if they wanted.
A SNP source said: “We weren’t consulted when this measure was brought in, but we must ensure we make the right decision.”
There would be no powers to prevent Scots going to England to take flights abroad if Nicola Sturgeon did block the plans north of the border.