The Daily Telegraph

Ministers urged to ditch pre-departure tests amid fears plans could be derailed

- By Charles Hymas Home Affairs editor

MINISTERS were last night urged to ditch pre-departure tests for doublejabb­ed holidaymak­ers amid fears the plans could be derailed by last-minute objections from health chiefs.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, are thought to back the move as part of a new streamline­d testing regime which would save a family of four up to £400 on an autumn holiday abroad.

Ministers also plan to replace expensive PCR tests which travellers have to take on day two of their arrival in the UK with cheaper lateral flow tests. They are expected to finalise the plans at a Cabinet Covid O committee meeting today or tomorrow to ensure the changes are in place in time for the autumn half term break at the end of October.

The changes will herald a major reopening of foreign travel for fully-vaccinated Britons as the red list of 62 countries requiring travellers to pay for hotel quarantine is scaled back.

The traffic light system will be axed with the green and amber lists of countries simplified into a single category, as revealed last week by The Telegraph, guaranteei­ng quarantine-free travel for double-jabbed Britons.

Tory MPS and travel industry chiefs last night urged ministers to scrap predepartu­re tests, which are required within 72 hours of returning to the UK. They are usually cheaper lateral flow tests, which cost £30, but deter travellers because of the risk of ending up in quarantine abroad if positive.

Henry Smith, Tory chairman of the all party Future of Aviation group, said: “The figures show the number of people testing positive is extraordin­arily low, around one per cent or lower. It is therefore a level of expense and complicati­on that doesn’t justify the minimal public health risk that there is.”

Tim Alderslade, of Airlines UK, said: “We cannot reopen properly with these layers of complexity. The economic costs of this are huge.”

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