Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Thursday evening has announced that double-jabbed arrivals into the UK will be able to take cheaper and quicker lateral flow tests from October 24
Image: DAILY RECORD)
Families flying home from half-term holidays can use cheaper lateral flow tests to prove they do not have coronavirus, the Government has confirmed.
Ministers had pledged to axe requirements for passengers arriving from abroad to use “gold standard” polymerase chain reaction kits before the end of the month.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Thursday evening announced the change for double-jabbed arrivals would come into force on October 24 – meaning travellers jetting back from half-term breaks overseas can benefit.
Travel and aviation industry bosses had long demanded the switch, saying that expensive PCR tests priced many families out of foreign trips.
Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “This is great news and we’re pleased to get it over the line in time for the crucial half-term period, which will be a massive relief to families desperate to get away this autumn.
“Vaccinated passengers can be reassured that they do not need to book or take an expensive PCR test when they return to the UK, which will further reduce the cost of travel.”
He added: “This is a major step forward that will support the desperately needed recovery of our sector.”
The rule change means fully-vaccinated passengers and most under-18s arriving in England from countries not on the red list can take a lateral flow test on or before day two of their arrival into the UK.
Passengers must upload a photo of their test to prove results as soon as possible, with free PCR tests for any positive cases.
Mr Javid said: “We want to make going abroad easier and cheaper, whether you’re travelling for work or visiting friends and family.
“Lateral flow tests will be available later this month for those returning from half term holidays.
“This change to testing is only possible thanks to the incredible progress of our vaccination programme, which means we can safely open up travel as we learn to live with the virus.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps added: “Today’s rule changes will make testing on arrival simpler and cheaper for people across the country who are looking forward to well-earned breaks for this October half term.
“Taking away expensive mandatory PCR testing will boost the travel industry and is a major step forward in normalising international travel and encouraging people to book holidays with confidence.”
Passengers who are not fully-vaccinated and are landing from a non-red list nation must still take a pre-departure test, PCR tests on days two and eight and complete 10 days self-isolation.
Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “It’s progress but if you’re fully jabbed you shouldn’t need to take a test at all.
“Testing measures are not only a faff for many but also amount to a tax on travel and put off people from booking with confidence, due to the higher costs.
“These barriers certainly won’t help the travel sector to recover as quickly as it should be by now.
“In addition, I don’t have to be tested if I return from a packed football stadium so why should I have to take a test returning from a business meeting or villa holiday?”