Covid travel rule change delayed as UK hit with lateral flow test shortage

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Covid travel rule change delayed  (PA Media)
Covid travel rule change delayed (PA Media)

UK travellers faced fresh holiday heartache as Grant Shapps confirmed a delay to one of the new travel rules.

Recently, travellers were told they no longer needed to take a “day two” PCR test on returning to the UK and instead would be able to take a cheaper lateral flow test.

However, the Transport Secretary delivered the bad news he would have to delay the date of binning PCR tests for holidaymakers on Wednesday.

Mr Shapps said Covid testing firms were facing a shortage of lateral flow tests. Now it could take several weeks before the switch from PCR to lateral flow tests can be made, he said.

But the politician acknowledged the importance of getting the new rule implemented soon with school half-term dates on the horizon.

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He told the Transport Select Committee: “But my understanding is that the ramp-up of supply of lateral flow [tests] through the private testing sector has some way to go [since] they have been almost entirely been involved in providing PCR [tests] currently.”

Mr Shapps revealed it was a question of scale when he was given a grilling over the decision by MP Ben Bradshaw.

“We go from a situation where they are providing a low number of thousands [of tests], to probably millions of tests very quickly and need a few weeks to scale up on it,” he said.

During the Committee, he revealed it had been the Department of Health’s decision.

It comes as the UK government confirmed they were scrapping the traffic light system which was implemented in the coronavirus pandemic.

There will no longer be a separate Amber and Green list, there will only be a “low-risk destinations” and the red list. 

Mr Shapps tweeted at the time: “We’ll also be introducing a new simplified system for international travel from Mon 4 Oct , replacing the current approach with a single red list and simplified measures for the rest of the world - striking the right balance to manage the public health risk as No.1 priority.”

It comes as Joe Biden announced the US plans to lift the travel ban for UK travellers in November which sparked a scramble for booking holidays.

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