Travelers to the England will be allowed to stop quarantining after five days provided they get a negative test result, under new rules due to come into force on December 15.
U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the new system will “bolster international travel while keeping the public safe” by reducing the current 14-day quarantine period for all travelers apart from those arriving from exempt countries and “will allow us to travel more freely, see loved ones and drive international business.”
Travelers will be able to purchase a rapid test from private health firms, costing up to £120.
Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair, criticized the announcement on BBC Radio 4’s “Today Program.” O’Leary said many people arriving in the U.K. do not always isolate and the rules are unenforceable.
“What European authorities are recommending is that you have people obtain a negative COVID test within 72 hours prior to departure,” the businessman said. “We think that’s a much better system. It means people […] at least show when they arrive in the country that they are COVID-free.”
In response, Shapps told the same program: “If it were possible to do as Mr. O’Leary describes, we would have already done it.” Instead, the measures set out by the U.K. government are more closely aligned with the World Health Organization’s conclusion that the coronavirus’s incubation period is between five to six days.
“From a medical science point of view, [Michael O’Leary’s suggestion] doesn’t really work,” said Shapps. “You need to have a period during which the incubation could have taken place.”
The U.K. will release regional details of its new tier system of COVID restrictions on Thursday.