Covid test comparison website to end confusion for holidaymakers

·3-min read
Testing - ANDY RAIN /EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Testing - ANDY RAIN /EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A GoCompare-style website for travel testing is to be launched by the Government to end the chaos for holidaymakers – as a test provider exposed by The Telegraph was ditched from the official list.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, is set to unveil the new gov.uk website within days to provide holidaymakers with clear information on the cheapest, quickest and most efficient Covid test companies.

His department also wants the site to have customer review scores for each test provider – similar to the ratings for restaurants, bars and hotels – so holidaymakers can be given advance warning of poor service.

It has already removed three providers – 001Doctor.uk, Now Test and Latus Health – from the current Government site following complaints from travellers and has issued warnings to a further handful.

001Doctor.uk was exposed by The Telegraph after customers complained of test kits failing to be delivered, leaving them stuck in isolation and complaining of feeling "confused" and "distressed".

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The new website is designed to drive down the cost of tests for holidaymakers amid claims that companies have been profiteering by charging up to £300 per PCR test.

Mr Shapps aims to have it in place by the time the foreign travel ban is lifted on Monday. Britons will then be free to go on holiday to safe "green" list countries including Portugal, Israel, Gibraltar and Iceland without having to quarantine on their return.

However, holidaymakers will still have to pay for a PCR test on their return and are required to take two tests if they travel to amber list countries, which require 10-day home quarantine.

Prices have started to fall from an average above £100 per PCR test – double the rate in the EU – to around £60, and to a low of £20 as part of a TUI holiday package.

The new site is expected to filter the test firms according to cost, the services they provide and their geographical location. It also aims to provide information on how quickly the companies can turn round their tests and their successful completion or failure rates.

The companies will also be set out according to categories, with packages for single tests for green list countries, two-test amber list country kits, and tests to release. The customer review capability is still being ironed out and may not be ready in time for Monday.

Mr Shapps signalled his plan last month when he said: "I will be driving [test] costs down in the next few weeks and remove providers if they are not playing ball because I don’t want to see people being ripped off."

Meanwhile, tour operators are planning to take British holidaymakers to amber list countries despite ministers appealing for people to avoid doing so.

Travel companies - including Tui, EasyJet Holidays and British Airways Holidays - are planning to run trips to countries including Malta, Antigua and the Spanish Canary Islands. They are using the guidance of the Foreign Office, which is separate from the DfT’s, as permission to do so.

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There are only 12 countries or territories currently on the green list, but the Government has pledged to review it at the beginning of June when more countries could be added. It is expected to be announced by June 7.

It came as the US ditched its blanket travel ban on the UK in a move that raises fresh hopes of a transatlantic travel corridor.

The US Center for Diseases Control moved the UK out of its level four category - which advises travellers against all travel - to level three, which allows certain non-essential travel such as for work or study.

Grant Shapps has been talking to his US counterpart Pete Buttigieg about a bilateral agreement to restart transatlantic travel.