In a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, the opposition party said the “dire warnings” from the travel sector about the use of “chaotic” blanket self-isolation advice meant it was time to review the methods being used to prevent the spread of Covid-19 from those returning to the UK from abroad.
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said a “robust testing regime in airports” could minimise the need for those returning from countries with high coronavirus prevalence to quarantine for two weeks.
It comes as new analysis revealed that countries that have expanded their airport testing have seen a decline in infection rates.
Greece, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Cyprus and Singapore all reduced their rates after intensifying border testing to allow arrivals to avoid 14-day quarantine from mid-August to this weekend, according to the Telegraph.
The data appears to fly in the face of the government’s argument that airport testing is ineffective.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock dismissed calls for holidaymakers to have to a test when they come into the airport after landing, saying that only seven per cent of people with positive cases would be caught, stressing that people need to isolate for 14 days.
He told BBC Breakfast: "There's a really good reason we don't do that. That is that the virus incubates in you and therefore if you test on day one on return, the scientists reckon you find only about seven per cent of the total cases.
Hancock’s comments were echoed by both Travel Secretary Grant Shapps and Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday, in a further blow to the travel industry, already struggling from the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
Thomas-Symonds said the quarantine was having a “dire” impact on the industry and called on ministers to carry out a “rapid review” of the current protocols and consider introducing more testing at airports.
In his letter to Patel, Thomas-Symonds said he has “serious concerns” about the low-level of monitoring of incoming travellers, claiming “less than a third of passenger locator forms are checked”, were another reason why a review was required.
He wrote: “I write to call for a rapid review to fix chaotic quarantine arrangements that are losing public confidence and undermining our ability to keep people safe and save jobs.
“In order to rebuild this trust I am calling on Government to undertake a review into quarantine policy, to report within a fortnight.
“It should include outlining options for a robust testing regime in airports, and related follow up tests, that could help to safely minimise the need for 14 day quarantine.
“It is clear that ramped up testing is an important part of trying to respond to the pandemic and safely reopen society.
“Given the huge challenges being faced by the travel sector and the scale of job losses, it makes sense to look at this area as part of a wider package of improvements to the testing regime.”
Holidaymakers in France, Spain and the Netherlands have all been caught out by the changes in recent weeks as ministers have introduced, in some cases with only a few hours’ notice, regulations forcing those returning to self-isolate for 14 days.
Anyone who breaks the rules faces a £1,000 fine.
In August, Shapps said that he doesn’t want to offer “false hope by saying it’s just as simple as a test at the airport,” because that “won’t tell you what you need to know.”