Baroness Harding, head of NHS Test and Trace gave no reassurance to the travel industry today that testing at borders will be in place by the end of the Brexit transition period.

In response to a Focus Travel Partnership question about the timing of the implementation of border testing at a Federation of Small Business webinar on Tuesday 13 October, Baroness Dido Harding, Chair of NHS Improvement and Interim Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace said that they are “working very collaboratively with the borders team on testing [on international arrivals] but the “slight rider I would put on that is the science.

“A negative test at a point in time only proves that you are not infectious at that point of time. If you have been travelling from a very high risk environment then I would expect that the clinicians will still advise that some kind of quarantine is necessary, so testing will help us, but I doubt it will be a silver bullet to fighting the virus and changing the need for us to be very cautious if people are travelling from very high risk environments.”

She gave no reassurance that testing at airports would be in place before the end of the year.

The Baroness joined Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Vice Chair, Martin McTague and the FSB’s Chief of External Affairs, Craig Beaumont on Tuesday 13 October for a webinar event on the Test and Trace system and its impact of its implementation on the SME sector in the UK.

Martin McTague, Policy and Advocacy Chairman for the FSB said: “I know this is tricky and I know the science makes it hard to give somebody a completely clean bill of health on entry to the country but when you think of how many businesses around the country depend on travel in one way or another, it is vital that we try and free up that entry into the country. You only have to walk around central London and see the absence of tourism and the impacts of that on massive swathes of the capital. It is something that we should be pouring a lot more effort into.”

Abby Penston said: “It’s desperately disappointing that there is no sense of urgency to get testing up and running at UK borders. The UK economy has supposedly set its sights on having a wider global presence by 1 January 2021. Business travel, trade and tourism rely on international travel, but it is stagnating while everyone is stuck in quarantine. Too much time has been wasted whilst decision makers have failed to acknowledge the importance of business travel, which contributes £220 billion to the UK’s GDP.”