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Top Tory MP demands to know when travel restrictions will end

The Tory chair of the Transport Select Committee has asked the health secretary when travel restrictions will end.

As The Independent has reported, on Wednesday Sajid Javid predicted that the current onerous restrictions on arrivals to the UK would end “very soon”.

The Department of Health and Social Care has decline to respond to requests for more details. But now Huw Merriman, who chairs the committee overseeing travel, has demanded answers from Mr Javid.

Mr Merriman writes: “Could you confirm when you expect such measures to end; if the end date is predicated on the level of community transmission, what requirements would need to be met to enable the measures to end; and if the end date is predicated on other requirements, what those requirements might be.”

The transport committee chair also asks whether the government plans to publish the evidence base underpinning its decision to introduce new requirements for travellers to the UK.

Over the past two weeks, the red list has been revived for 11 African nations; post-arrival PCR tests have been brought back, with a new requirement to self-isolate until a negative result is obtained; and pre-departure tests are required once again.

Mr Merriman demands to know “what benefit the pre-departure test provides, over and above the test on arrival”.

He also enquired about the U-turn that was made on such tests at the start of December. The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, ruled out their introduction on 1 December, before announcing them three days later.

“Due to a lack of financial support accompanying the new measures, those working in the travel sector, and those relying upon it, are keen to understand the reasoning behind, and the likely duration of, these measures,” Mr Merriman writes.

On Wednesday 15 December the Transport Select Committee will question Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, and the aviation minister, Robert Courts, about the new rules.

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