The Department of Transportation says passengers traveling to the UK from countries with high infection rates can reduce their isolation from 14 to five if they test negative for the corona virus on the fifth day.
Passengers will have to pay for the checks themselves and make reservations at one of the private providers on the government list.
Officials said they would like the plan to take effect from December 15 to increase travel without putting additional pressure on the NHS.
Transport Secretary Grant Shops said: “We have a plan to ensure that the exit route from this epidemic is careful and consistent, which allows us to focus on what can now be done to improve international travel while keeping the public safe.
“Our new testing strategy will allow us to travel more freely, visit loved ones and run international business.
Critics say the move should have been implemented earlier to facilitate travel during the summer break. But those who make a living in the winter, like Tom Stein having a ski salad in France, sigh with relief.
“This is great news for us,” he said.
“Reducing isolation from 14 days to five means that our guests are going to travel. Many have pointed out that they can deal with short isolation, whereas 14 days they can not.
“With no bookings in the first few days of summer, we are somewhat confident about the viability of the trip.”
But some travel industry figures point out that even a brief isolation can be a major obstacle to travel.
Paul Charles, chief executive of PC Agency’s travel consultant, said: “This measure does not apply to everyone.
“Some people find it easy to isolate when they come back, but many can’t, and they may not be able to afford it, especially if they have a family of four, to get a private test after five days, which costs them hundreds of pounds.
“But we need to see a return to what life was like before COVID, which is just the beginning of the path to default.”
Testing for five days of self-isolation will ensure that COVID-19 cases are not missed because it will allow the virus to incubate time.
Airlines such as BA and Virgin Atlantic want the government to implement pre- and post-flight tests, which could eliminate the need for isolation, they said.
Shay Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said: “The only way to fully reopen key trade and travel links, support the UK economic recovery and secure the more than 500,000 jobs supported by air travel is to go for a robust pre-departure testing system to make isolation safer as soon as possible. “
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce added that passengers had to prove that they had been vaccinated against Govt-19 to board the plane.
Mr Joyce said the move was a “need” when vaccines were available and that he thought it would be a common thing among airlines in the future.
But for now, in a sector where hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake, tapping into hope five days after arriving in the UK may be the first step to recovery.