COVID-19 Test to Release for International Travel
26 March, 2021 | Raja
The British government has set up a ‘Test to Release’ scheme for people who have arrived from outside the UK and don’t want to spend the required 10 days of mandated quarantine that all arrivals have to sit through.
Under the Test to Release scheme, you can privately pay for a COVID test, and if the result is negative, you won’t have to spend any more time in quarantine. You can’t take the test until you’ve been in England for at least 5 days.
If you will be returning to the UK any time soon and don’t want to spend 10 days in quarantine, you can volunteer to take part in the scheme. There are two main methods of applying for the scheme. You can book a test with a private test provider, such as iQ Doctor,
You should preferably book your test before you travel to England so that you can get tested in a timely manner.
You will then have to pay out of your pocket for a test from a private test provider. You will need to book a separate test for every person opting into the Test to Release scheme, including children.
Once you have paid for and booked your test, the test provider will send a test to your location or, alternatively, you can always go to a testing site yourself. You will be allowed to leave your house to post your test or travel-to and travel-from the testing site. If you have to travel to a testing site, you should follow all mandated rules such as wearing a mask and strictly observe social distancing and avoid public transport by all means. You can always opt for home collection services.
You can read more about the need for testing here.
Rules of the scheme
You cannot participate in the Test to Release scheme if you have been or passed through any of the countries on the travel ban red list in the 10 days before you arrive in England.
After arriving in England, you must enter quarantine immediately. Take note that you can’t take a private test for COVID until the 5th day of quarantine
For example, if you arrive in England on a Monday, Tuesday will be your second day of the quarantine, and Saturday will be the 5th day. So you can have your test done on Saturday. While your test sample is being processed, you will need to wait in quarantine until you get a negative result.
If your test result comes back as negative, you will be allowed to leave quarantine right away. However, even after leaving quarantine, it is recommended that you follow regular protocols such as social distancing and mask-wearing to protect other people.
If you test positive for COVID
If your test result comes out as positive for COVID, you will need to quarantine for an additional ten days. Anyone else who lives with you or who you are staying with will also need to quarantine for ten days from the date of your positive test result.
If your test result is inconclusive
If your COVID test results are inconclusive, you must continue to remain in quarantine while you repeat the test.
You can also decide to pay for a private test to learn your proper prognosis.
It would be best if you did everything in your power to observe quarantine properly no matter what happens. Breaking quarantine is fined up to a value of £1,000 for the first time and up to £10,000 for further breaches.
The NHS COVID testing schemes do not cover the test that you are eligible to take under this scheme. You will need to take a test by a private provider, who will provide documentation showing your negative or positive result. If you break quarantine because of a negative NHS test result, you might end up paying a hefty fine.
You should already have the NHS Test and Trace app on your phone. When you return to the UK, the app should be instructing you to quarantine. If the app tells you to start self-isolating, you should cancel any private test you might have had lined up for the Test to Release Scheme. The self-isolation should last ten days after your last contact with anyone who later tested positive for COVID.
What to do if you have symptoms
If you start exhibiting the classic symptoms of COVID, you should inform the NHS through the app and get tested. If your NHS test result is negative, that does not mean that you can stop self-isolating. A negative result from an NHS test does not shorten the 10 days required to self-isolate.
Am I exempt from quarantine requirements?
The Test to Release Scheme allows people who arrive in England to bypass the quarantine process by proving that they are not carrying the COVID virus. On the other hand, some jobs are exempt from the quarantine requirements. If you have one of these jobs, you can avail of the Test to Release Scheme as soon as you arrive.
Why is quarantine so essential?
The quarantine requirements for people who arrive in England from abroad might seem harsh and strict, but they are ultimately for everyone’s greater good. Being in quarantine helps prevent family and friends and your community from the risk of getting infected with COVID.
If you don’t want to spend 10 days in isolation after returning to England, get yourself tested by iQ Doctor. Take advantage of the Test to Release Scheme to get out of quarantine early, given that your result comes back as negative for COVID. If it comes back as positive, you can be glad that you decided to get tested in the first place, thereby ensuring other peoples’ safety by self-isolating.