British citizens who travel overseas and return from holiday may soon be required to take COVID tests over a live video feed while on a call with “health advisors” to prove that they are not lying about the result.
British travellers, including those who have received two doses of a COVID vaccine, who travel overseas and return to Britain will be able to avoid taking a PCR test and instead use a cheaper, rapid lateral flow swab. However, the government has expressed concerns that test-takers “could lie about the results,” according to the Daily Mail.
To prevent travellers from lying about the results of their COVID test, Britain’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid suggested that travellers perform the lateral flow test on a supervised video call with a health advisor from a private firm, the Times reported.
The British government has not provided a date for implementing the procedure, but speculation among travel industry leaders suggests it will begin sometime around October 25. The proposal comes as new rules were introduced on Monday to make travel to the United Kingdom “easier and cheaper.”
The preexisting system of categorizing travelers into green, amber, and red lists has been cancelled and simplified as either being on the red list, or not. The red list will also be slashed to 9 countries from 54. Destinations including Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa will be permitted territories for travelers to go to without requiring quarantine.
Furthermore, fully vaccinated individuals and unvaccinated under-18’s from over 50 countries can now enter the United Kingdom without needing to complete a pre-departure lateral flow test. Instead, they will only have to provide a single-day post-arrival test to depart.
The Daily Mail reports that travellers from red tier destinations will still be required to spend 11 nights at a quarantine hotel, which can cost up to £2,300 ($3,900 CAD). Despite the pains travelers still have to endure, the travel sector has welcomed the easing of regulations.
The travel sector, which includes airlines and tour operators, has been severely impacted since the onset of the pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns that have prevented travelers from going on holiday or taking trips overseas. The industry has accused the British government of “being too slow to relax and simplify the rules for international travel,” reports the Daily Mail.
The move to require citizens to submit to a video screening of the COVID test follows efforts in Australia to mandate its citizens, requiring them to provide geotrackable selfies to police in order to prove they are staying at home in areas where the lockdown is in effect, Reuters reported.
Under the system being trialled, people respond to random check-in requests by taking a 'selfie' at their designated home quarantine address. If the software, which also collects location data, does not verify the image against a "facial signature", police may follow up with a visit to the location to confirm the person's whereabouts.
Though the technology has been used in WA since last November, it has more recently been pitched as a tool to enable the country to reopen its borders, ending a system in place since the start of the pandemic that requires international arrivals to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine under police guard.