Travel sector believes the measures will come too late to save the holiday season
A plane lands on the southern runway at London Heathrow Airport. US and EU travellers who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus will be allowed to enter England and Scotland without the need to quarantine from Monday. Travellers will be required to take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on or before the second day after their arrival. Picture date: Thursday July 29, 2021. PA Photo. The new rules also include arrivals from Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and Vatican City. Travellers from France to the UK will continue to be required to enter quarantine. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus Travel. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Ministers have slashed cost of PCR travel tests (PA)author avatar image By Richard Vaughan
The cost of Covid travel tests has been slashed after ministers admitted the price of testing was acting as a “barrier” to families being able to enjoy a summer holiday.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has also vowed to crack down on “cowboy” private testing providers, which have been hitting passengers with “excessive costs”.
From Saturday, travel tests secured through NHS Test and Trace will be cut from £88 to £68 for a single PCR test. News and analysis, direct from Westminster to your inbox
For people returning from an amber-listed country and not fully-vaccinated and therefore requiring two tests will see costs drop from £170 to £136 for a day two and day 8 test.
The move comes amid mounting criticism from senior Tory MPs and travel industry leaders who have warned the costs of testing is prohibitively expensive for too many people and was hitting the sector hard. Passengers can purchase NHS Test and Trace tests alongside the list of private providers.
The news comes as the competition watchdog said it will look at what “immediate actions” the Government can take to clamp down on the sky high costs of PCR tests required to travel abroad.
Mr Javid has called on the Competitions and Markets Authority to launch a “rapid” 10 day review into the practices of private testing providers.
The Health Secretary said he was determined to protect consumers from “exploitative” practices.
“I know how much people have looked forward to their summer holidays and that the cost of PCR testing can be a barrier to that.”
He added: “Too many providers are acting like cowboys and that needs to stop. The public should be allowed to enjoy their summer holidays without having to face excessive costs or anxiety.”
Some providers offering PCR tests which meet minimum standards have been charging £200 or more.
This week, Conservative MP Henry Smith, who is the chairman of the Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group, said private Covid-19 tests should be capped at £40.
He said this would allow more people to travel abroad, putting aviation “back on a sustainable path to recovery”..
But Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said ministers have been “asleep at the wheel” on the issue.
He told the BBC: “This is an industry that has grown up, that’s worth some £700 million. It’s grown up in the last six months at great speed, but there’s been a lack of oversight or proper regulation.”