Grant Shapps warns travellers to hold off on booking travel tests
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Although the change from day two PCR tests to lateral flows was welcomed by travel experts, many would like the Government to ditch testing altogether. However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has now said day two tests will be in place until at least after the new year.
Grant Shapps told the Airport Operators Association Conference: “We will review our travel policy once again in the new year to see if we can move even further towards restriction-free travel.”
New lateral flows for travel will be bookable from October 22 when the Government will release the list of approved sellers.
The news that tests are here to stay until the new year will be bad news for families with Christmas trips abroad booked.
Although lateral flow tests will save travellers money, the tests are still an extra expense that can quickly start to add up.
When the change was announced, Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Testing, along with vaccines, remains one of our first lines of defence against COVID-19.
“Getting a test as early as possible on arrival and isolation when necessary, can help control the spread of the virus and protect one another.”
Professor Denis Kinane, immunologist and founder of Cignpost Diagnostics, told Express.co.uk: “Now that the Government is set on replacing gold standard PCR tests with the cheaper Lateral Flow Test for arrivals, it is critical to ensure the system will detect worrying new Covid variants.
“The Government has to reduce spread and new variants coming into the UK and if lateral flow tests are used, they need to be performed authentically.”
The Government has said lateral flow test results can be proved with a photo taken by the passenger.
Travel experts have urged the Government to crack down on exploitative testing companies as fears remain over the price of lateral tests.
Anabel Hoult, chief executive of Which?, said: “Some private companies have charged extortionate prices for tests.
“Others continue to battle to appear at the top of the price-ordered Government list by offering ‘cheap’ tests which then prove to be unobtainable, or have cost three times as much to be delivered.
“In other cases, the cheap tests advertised were only available for those able to travel to collect their test from a certain location in the UK on a certain day, weeks into the future.”
Lateral flow tests are expected to cost around £25 per person so could quickly add up for a family of four.
Shapps said: “Global travel next year is predicted to grow significantly, coming after the worst two years on record.
“That will provide some welcome relief. So, now it’s time to look forward to rebooting tourism and trade, to getting the fleet back up in the air where they belong, welcoming passengers back to busy airports, and securing an aviation recovery that is safe and sustainable.”
Thomas Cook told Express.co.uk that it had seen an uptick in passengers booking international holidays for Christmas and New Year, despite testing remaining in place.
It said: “With travel becoming ever cheaper and simpler, we’re seeing customers book holidays for Christmas and New Year as they look to make this year something to remember for all the right reasons.
“It’s also been great to see people once again returning to the great cities of Europe for short trips now they no longer need to do as many tests.”
Many countries within Europe do not require double-vaccinated passengers to take tests after arrival in the UK.
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