End of PCR tests in sight for fully vaccinated travellers

·2-min read
Testing centre at airport - Steve Parsons
Testing centre at airport - Steve Parsons

Sajid Javid has signalled the end of PCR tests for fully jabbed holidaymakers as travel chiefs called for all tests for people arriving from low-risk countries to be scrapped.

The Health Secretary told MPs on Tuesday that they could expect the Government’s global travel review, due this week, to replace the expensive PCR tests with cheaper lateral flow tests.

Travel industry chiefs are, however, concerned that the prospect of even two lateral flow tests – up to 72 hours before departure and on day two of holidaymakers’ return to the UK – will deter people from flying abroad.

In a letter to Boris Johnson, 13 chief executives representing Britain’s main airlines, airports, tourism and business groups urged him to scrap all tests that were placing an "unnecessary and unfair" burden on vaccinated travellers.

“We urge you to acknowledge the damaging and detrimental effect this ineffective regime has on the UK’s competitiveness, on the inbound visitor economy, and on people visiting loved ones, enjoying hard-earned holidays or travelling for important business connections,” they wrote.

“Removing testing requirements for vaccinated passengers is an essential step towards solving these problems, without which the aviation sector and wider travel industry cannot recover.”

The Prime Minister also confirmed that the traffic light system would be simplified and the burdens of testing made “less onerous” for those returning to the UK.

The red list requiring travellers to quarantine in government-approved hotels – at a cost of £2,285 – will remain, although it is expected to be substantially reduced from the current 62 countries.

Green and amber lists will be merged into a single category with fully jabbed travellers free to visit countries on them with only lateral flow tests and no quarantine.

It is unclear yet what this will mean for unvaccinated travellers who currently have to quarantine for 10 days on return from amber countries.

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