Families planning a mid-term getaway received a major boost last night, as ministers confirmed they would do away with expensive PCR travel tests in ten days.
Tests, which can cost more than £ 100, will be replaced with cheaper fast lateral flow swabs from October 24.
Importantly, they’ll go on sale from October 22, just as schools begin their mid-term vacation.
The move could save a family of four around £ 200 on a trip overseas later this month and should boost confidence in the besieged travel industry.
According to plans, fully vaccinated holidaymakers will now only have to take the rapid test after returning from safe countries on or before day two.
Eliminating expensive PCR testing could save a family of four around £ 200 per overseas trip when the switch to lateral flow testing continues in ten days
A PCR test -ee on the NHS – will only be required if the rapid test is positive.
Children are treated as if they are fully immunized, even if they are not, making family vacations possible.
But unvaccinated adults must self-quarantine at home for ten days, take a pre-return test within 72 hours and two PCR tests on days two and eight after arrival.
Ministers had delayed announcing a specific date for the change to take effect over concerns over whether private providers had sufficient supply to meet demand.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said last night that the move would make foreign travel “easier and cheaper”.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said switching from expensive PCR tests to cheaper rapid lateral flow tests would make traveling abroad “easier and cheaper”. Photographed at Vale Medical Center in Forest Hill, South East London
He had wanted travelers to be supervised during the rapid tests, but a photograph of the negative result taken on a mobile phone and sent to the provider for verification will now be sufficient.
Travelers will not be able to use the free tests provided by the NHS, but will instead need to book with private providers and prove on their passenger tracking form that they have done so. Lateral flow tests typically cost between £ 20 and £ 40.
Some travel chefs and lawmakers have said the government should go further and remove all testing for fully vaccinated travelers.
Paul Charles, managing director of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “If you’ve suffered a double blow, why should you take a test?
“Even having to take a lateral flow test is like a travel tax – you have to pay it, you have to do it and you have no choice. These measures remain an obstacle to building confidence in travel.
Ben Bradshaw, of the Labor Party, a member of the House of Commons transport committee, said that while the announcement is welcome, it “still leaves Britain with the most expensive and costly travel regime. of all European countries ”.
A PCR test, which is free on the NHS, will only be required if the rapid lateral flow test test is positive and children are treated as if they are fully immunized, even if they are not. which makes family vacations possible.
He added: “What we really should do is follow Europe’s lead and allow test-free travel for double-vaccinated passengers and align ourselves with the rest of Europe. But Tim Alderslade, managing director of trade body Airlines UK, said: “We are grateful to ministers for crossing the line in time for the crucial mid-term period. “
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today’s rule changes will make arrival testing easier and cheaper for people who look forward to well-deserved breaks.
“The removal of costly mandatory PCR testing will boost the travel industry and is a big step forward in standardizing international travel and encouraging people to book vacations with confidence. “