Travel agencies in the UK are considering the possibility of providing customers with Covid-19 tests before they return from vacation.
The news follows confirmation from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that all travelers will be required to provide a negative test before arriving in England as part of an effort to prevent the spread of new coronavirus variants. Results must be obtained within 72 hours of departure, with a £ 500 fine for those breaking the rules.
Fears have been expressed that if strict border controls remain in place after travel reopens, holidaymakers may have to pay for expensive tests both before departure and upon return, which could prevent many families from traveling. .
Alan French, CEO of Thomas Cook, said the company will prioritize helping customers secure overseas testing.
He said, “We are already starting to look for partners in our major vacation areas to build relationships so that we can help our customers get the best deal and service for their test. We urge the government to make it clearer when it intends to present it and under what circumstances it will lift it. ”
Mr French also suggested that increasing testing measures would not deter those who wish to leave this year.
“What our customers want to know is that when they have booked vacations, they can take them. If they need to take a test before and during to make sure, they will. ”
Likewise, Tom Harding, co-founder of Nemo Travel, said the luxury tour operator would consider covering the cost of the required tests.
He said: “We are working at one end of the market where our chosen hotels really care about our travelers. Even in remote corners of Namibia or on an island in the Maldives, we can work with hotels to provide PCR testing for our travelers. There is a cost attached, usually around $ 50 (£ 37) per person, and we would definitely be willing to cover that to help people travel again. ”
A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation told the Telegraph today that rapid antigen and loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) tests, which can provide results within hours, will be accepted, along with swabs. More expensive “gold standard” PCR, which some countries specify must be indicated. In the UK, private rapid tests can be bought online for as little as £ 30, while PCR tests range from around £ 80 to £ 300 for same-day results.