Gatwick to open Covid-19 testing facility

The service could help passengers travelling to destinations requiring them to produce evidence of a recent negative test.

Coronavirus
Coronavirus

A coronavirus testing facility will open at Gatwick Airport later this month.

The West Sussex airport announced it will offer “fast and accurate” PCR swab tests, with results available the next day.

The service could help passengers travelling to destinations requiring them to produce evidence of a recent negative Covid-19 test.

Gatwick said it could also be used by arriving passengers to reduce self-isolation periods, depending on changes in Government policy.

International arrivals in the UK from non-exempt countries must currently quarantine for 14 days, but ministers are developing a “test and release” system, whereby people will be able to stop self-isolating if they test negative for coronavirus after around five days.

The UK aviation industry is desperate for travel restrictions to be eased to spark a recovery in demand.

Gatwick’s passenger numbers between July and September were down 86% compared with the same period last year.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said the industry had been decimated by the pandemic (Gatwick Airport/PA)

Its testing facility opens on November 30 in the South Terminal long-stay car park.

Passengers and airport employees will be charged £60 each, while the cost to the general public will be £99.

The service has been developed with ExpressTest, a division of screening and healthcare services provider Cignpost Diagnostics.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “Reducing the spread of Covid-19 is a priority for us alongside giving confidence to so many people who have missed travelling during this difficult year.

“Our new screening facility is also a convenient service to offer people in the region looking for extra reassurance.

“We are pleased to be subsidising the price for our passengers and any staff based at Gatwick so they are compliant with current destination requirements that many of our airlines including easyJet, British Airways and Tui fly to.

“Our industry has been decimated by the pandemic and, while we welcome the anticipated test and release scheme from the Government, we want to see an internationally agreed pre-departure testing regime, based on existing risk criteria, to replace the current uncertainty of quarantine and patchwork of testing approaches which currently exists across Europe.

“A truly international approach would safely open up most of the UK’s travel routes abroad, while also helping to reduce transmission of the virus.”

Heathrow became the first UK airport to offer coronavirus testing last month.

Earlier this week, British Airways announced it will begin a voluntary testing programme of passengers in a bid to demonstrate a test 72 hours before departure is “robust” enough to replace the need for any quarantine period.

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