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ABTA calls for relaxation of Covid-19 testing requirements
Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, has led calls for the lifting of restrictions

ABTA calls for relaxation of Covid-19 testing requirements

ABTA has joined calls for a relaxation of testing requirements for travellers to and from the UK.

The government earlier announced it is removing 11 countries from the red list, which were originally added to slow down the introduction of the Omicron variant to the UK.

However, with the variant now dominant in the UK, the restrictions have become redundant.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, said: “The removal of countries from the red list is a sensible step. 

“However, the government has always been clear that once the Omicron variant is widespread across the UK there would be little rationale for retaining any restrictions on international travel, so the government must explain why temporary testing requirements have been retained until the first week of January.”


The government said it recognised the impact that temporary health measures have on the travel and aviation industry.

These measures – the red list, testing for arrivals and self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers – will be reviewed again early in the new year on January 5th.

Tanzer continued: “With the testing measures now extending over the Christmas and New Year period, and the industry quickly approaching peak-booking season for summer 2022, travel businesses are facing a very serious situation.

“Consumer confidence in travel has suffered a significant setback, which will outlast these restrictions.

“The government must acknowledge this by bringing forward grant support to help businesses through the difficult weeks ahead.

“Almost two years into this crisis, there has still been no business support from the treasury to address directly the impact on UK businesses of the travel restrictions.”

ABTA research suggests employment across the travel industry has halved since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

Tanzer concludes: “We also need the government to focus on providing the stability that is essential to rebuild consumer confidence in the longer-term.

“This must include a robust plan to deal with future variants, developed with public health experts and the industry.

“As part of this there should be transition arrangements for the red list – which would enable people overseas when decisions are taken to place a country on the red list to complete self-isolation at home, along with additional testing measures, to avoid costly quarantine - as well as moving away from pre-departure testing, which is the single greatest barrier to getting people travelling again.”