How are scientists responding to travel restrictions being eased

UK lockdown: Ferrari questions 'unelected scientists'

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As part of the UK’s move out of lockdown restrictions, the Government is gradually easing restrictions around international travel. On July 19 all internal restrictions were lifted in England, as the Government urged Brits to use their common sense to help us move out of the pandemic. The only legal restrictions which must be followed now centre primarily around international travel.

The Government has always stressed that vaccinations have been key to England’s unlocking.

With over 56 percent of England’s population fully vaccinated to date, calls have been made to relax travel restrictions further.

The latest easing plans could be announced today as Ministers have met to discuss plans to lift quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers from the EU and US.

These plans could come into force in England as soon as next week.

These talks come after the Government has faced mounting pressure from the struggling aviation and tourism sectors to ease restrictions faster.

Scientists have been mixed in their support for the Government when it comes to loosening the strict rules around foreign travel.

In response to this latest development Professor Denis Kinane, a founding scientist at Cignpost ExpressTest said: “It would be sensible at this point in the pandemic to relax quarantine rules for those travelling from amber list countries.

“Those vaccinated here and abroad are a lower risk to themselves and their families so allowing them to travel here without quarantining is entirely justifiable.

“However, vaccinated individuals can still catch the virus and be a transmission risk. So, as we relax this quarantine restriction, it is also important to continue testing before and after arrival.

But he has urged caution around testing. He said: “Because lateral flow tests are significantly less reliable than the gold standard PCR tests, we believe the government should require anyone travelling here to have a PCR test before they board a plane and then again on arrival.”

He adds: “The single biggest threat to the country getting back to normal is if a new, more infectious Covid variant was to be brought into the country.

“The Delta variant was allowed to enter and spread, upsetting the Government’s unlocking timetable. We must do all we can to avoid a repetition with a new COVID strain.”

Other scientists have warned against lifting restrictions around travel restrictions.

Some warn that even the traffic light system is not robust enough to prevent Covid variants from entering the UK.

Professor Martin Hibberd, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Observer that more testing was needed before travel should be allowed to reopen.

He stressed that the Government’s current approach would inevitably see new variants enter the country.

He told the Observer: “We should develop an effective strategy to cope with the competing desires to allow international travel while keeping the circulating virus in the UK to a minimum.

“From my infectious disease perspective, for travel, I would like to see more testing, preferably with professionally taken swabs, and more support for quarantining, at home when it is possible – and which can be verified for compliance – together with an effective tracing programme.”

With such conflicting views being expressed it can be difficult to judge which route is best for Britain.

But the Government has always stressed it will be led by “the science” when it comes to deciding which restrictions to lift.

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