Virgin Atlantic launches new COVID-19 test trial on Caribbean holidays to beat quarantine

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Holidaymakers jetting off to the Caribbean in December could be offered a free COVID-19 test when flying with Virgin Atlantic. The transatlantic airline launching the new trial on flights between London and the Caribbean.

The new trial is set to kick off on December 9 from Heathrow Terminal 2.

Passengers on flight VS186 will be the first to benefit from the new testing regime.

PCR tests usually set travellers back around £80, however, during the trial no fee will be taken for the tests.

Travellers must return a negative test in order to board flights.

Currently, arrivals into the UK must quarantine for 14 days if they have come from a destination not currently on the travel corridor list.

This is set to change in the coming weeks, with arrivals given the option to reduce their quarantine period to five days if they provide a negative covid test on day five of their isolation.

However, Virgin Atlantic hopes the trial will serve as proof testing ahead of travel is a feasible alternative to quarantine on arrival.

“The new UK test to release scheme is a vital first step in re-opening the skies, but we must now move rapidly towards a single test pre-departure regime in order to ensure the survival of UK aviation and protect 500,000 jobs reliant on the sector,” said Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss.

“Our Heathrow-Barbados testing trial, in close collaboration with partners including Collinson, London Heathrow and the Barbados Ministry of Tourism, will gather vital data on the efficacy of a pre-departure testing regime to safely replace quarantine.

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“We hope testing will also lead the way for US borders to open to UK travellers.”

Many other airlines, including British Airways and US airline Delta Air Lines have also launched their own testing schemes in recent weeks.

British Airways is trialling covid tests on select flights from the USA to the UK.

The flag carrier, along with American Airlines and airline alliance Oneworld, has launched an optional COVID-19 medical-based testing trial on selected transatlantic flights to London Heathrow.

Travellers will take three coronavirus tests during the process.

Firstly, they will take an at-home RT-PCR test 72 hours ahead of departure.

This will be overseen by a medical professional via a virtual visit.

The second test – a LAMP test – will be taken at Heathrow Airport and involves the collection of a nasal sample by a medical professional.

The third is a test kit given to the passenger. The test kit offers an at-home testing option and requires the participant to self-collect a saliva sample three days after arrival into the UK.

If a holidaymaker receives a negative result at any point, they must reschedule their trip and enter into a period of self-isolation.

Similarly, Delta has also announced plans of “quarantine-free” flights between the US and Italy.

The airline plans to run its trial on journeys between Atlanta and Rome throughout December.

Passengers who take part in pre-departure covid testing will be able to escape the current 14-days of isolation required on arrival in Italy.

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