Sajid Javid indicates PCR tests for double-jabbed travellers will be scrapped

·2-min read

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has indicated that PCR tests for double-jabbed travellers will be scrapped in favour of cheaper lateral flow tests.

Mr Javid told the Commons that changes to the rules for international travel will be announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps “as soon as he is ready”.

Fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber list locations, including popular destinations such as France, Italy, Greece and mainland Portugal, are required to buy post-arrival PCR tests which typically cost around £65.

Some of the private testing firms listed on the Government website have been accused of advertising misleading low prices and providing poor service.

Tory MP Huw Merriman, who chairs the Transport Select Committee, asked the Health Secretary if he would “entertain the idea of moving to lateral flow tests, which are cheaper, and then only the small proportion of positive cases will then need to take up a PCR test”.

Mr Javid replied: “I don’t want to pre-empt the statement by the Transport Secretary but I believe that when he makes that statement, he will be pleased.”

Labour former minister Ben Bradshaw echoed Mr Merriman, asking: “When will he scrap the outdated, unnecessary and hugely expensive travel testing regime, save what is left of the industry and end the situation where foreign travel has once again become the preserve of the rich?”

A plane takes off past the control tower at Heathrow Airport (Steve Parsons/PA)
A plane takes off past the control tower at Heathrow Airport (Steve Parsons/PA)

Mr Javid said: “It is important that we have a system of surveillance, especially around variants across the world.

“There are different ways to do that.

“We have chosen a particular path at the moment, but it is important to have that surveillance.

“As I have alluded to earlier, we are planning to make some changes around the travel regime and the Transport Secretary will come to the House as soon as he is ready.”

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said travellers were “let down badly during the summer by a dysfunctional travel testing system that left people facing rip-off prices or paying rogue providers for test kits and results that arrived late or not at all”.

He continued: “With just six weeks until the half-term break, people need clarity on whether they need to pay for private PCR tests for upcoming trips abroad.

“The Government must urgently announce its plans for the travel testing system to end the uncertainty for millions of people who may be trying to make plans for holidays or to visit friends and family.

“Regardless of whether the rules change for double-vaccinated travellers returning to the UK, ministers must act now on the competition regulator’s recommendations for PCR testing to ensure consumers are protected properly and bring down the often extortionate cost of tests, with price caps if necessary.”

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