The Daily Telegraph
Pre-departure tests for fully vaccinated face being scrapped
PRE-DEPARTURE tests for double jabbed Britons returning to the UK face being abolished under plans being considered by ministers to ease restrictions on foreign travel.
They will meet this week to determine whether the tests, required within 72 hours of returning to the UK, should be scrapped for fully vaccinated travellers returning from “low-risk” countries.
The tests, which are usually lateral flows costing £30 per person would, however, be retained for any travellers from “high-risk” countries and for any arrivals into the UK who are not vaccinated.
The option comes on top of a Government intention – set out by Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, this weekend – to ditch the more expensive PCR tests, which double jabbed travellers have to take on their return to the UK, and replace them with the cheaper lateral flow tests.
Pre-departure tests have been seen as a major impediment to travel because of families’ fears of a positive result forcing them to quarantine in a foreign country.
It would cut the costs of a holiday for a fully jabbed family of four by more than £100, on top of a saving of up to £400 if ministers go ahead with plans to scrap PCR tests.
It is part of Boris Johnson’s “bonfire of Covid regulations” that will also see the traffic light system for travel axed, with the amber and green lists merged into a single category.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, urged the Government to follow Europe’s example and ditch predeparture and PCR tests.
He said: “Getting rid of PCR testing would be a real step forward but not if we still end up with two tests you have to pay for.”
Tory MPS are also concerned there should not be any delay in introducing any changes, which are expected to be announced on Thursday.
It came as British holidaymakers were able to use digital vaccine passports to travel for the first time yesterday, as part of a trial to reduce airport queues.
They were able to verify their vaccine status before returning to the UK by uploading the information from their NHS app on to their passenger locator form.
The technology means that airlines and Border Force staff will no longer have to check people’s vaccine status manually – one of the main causes of delays of up to four hours at airline check-ins, pre-departure and on arrival in the UK.
Officials have also deployed technology that allows children to be included on their parents’ passenger locator form, which means families will be able to go through airport e-gates.