He fought for the travel industry – and won

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By Linsey McNeill
07/01/2022
Home » He fought for the travel industry – and won

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps battled with his Cabinet colleague Sajid Javid to relax travel restrictions, it has emerged.

The Health Secretary had argued in favour of keeping expensive PCR tests for all arrivals to help prevent new strains of coronavirus entering the UK undetected, according to an article in The Times.

However, Mr Shapps warned that the stricter testing requirements, introduced following the emergence of Omicron, was damaging the travel industry.

He told the Covid-O committee meeting that Omicron cases had ‘rocketed’ in Australia despite its tough entry restrictions.

Mr Shapps also said, according to The Times, that Heathrow and British Airways had plummeted in their respective league tables, adding that the UK lost £50 billion in tourism revenue in 2020-21.

In the end, Prime Minister Boris Johnson sided with Mr Shapps and announced that pre-departure tests for arrivals would be ditched for vaccinated arrivals from today and, from Sunday, they can take a cheaper lateral flow test instead of a PCR.

A Government source told The Times: “Sajid was very unhappy about the decision to remove the requirement for PCR tests. He argued they are instrumental in spotting new variants sooner. He said that by scrapping them you increase the risk of having to shut down the entire economy. But he lost the argument.”

Mr Javid had said earlier that once Omicron became the dominant variant in the UK there would be ‘less need to have any kind of travel restrictions at all’.

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