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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Travel bosses demand date for PCR test switch


Tour operators and airlines have called on the government to publish the date when Covid tests will change for fully vaccinated travellers.

Last month, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps stated that “day two” PCR tests would be phased out in favour of less expensive lateral flow tests beginning “at the end of October.”

However, no specifics have been released.

“It is time for the UK government to confirm exactly when these changes will come into force,” said Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays.

“Hardworking customers and families do not deserve delays and speculation; they deserve clarity so they can plan and look forward to their holidays,” he added.

Mr Shapps told Today last week that he hoped the change would be implemented “in time for people returning from half-term holidays, potentially, and certainly by the end of October.”

After a difficult 18 months, Jet2, the UK’s second-largest tour operator, saw a welcome increase in bookings. “Half-term is incredibly busy due to demand,” the travel company added, “and we’ll be operating up to 2,500 weekly flights.”

If they are fully vaccinated, visitors returning to the UK must take a Covid test no later than day two after arrival. It has to be a PCR test.

If they are not fully vaccinated, they must be quarantined for 10 days upon arrival in the UK and must take a test on day two and day eight.

If you are fully vaccinated, the PCR test will be replaced by a cheaper lateral flow test under the new rules, but the date of the change is unknown. If you are not fully vaccinated, nothing will change.

During the spring and summer, the cost of PCR tests has been a source of contention. Many travellers complained about being taken advantage of, with PCR tests costing up to £75 to £100 per person.

Industry leaders believe that these costs were a prohibitive barrier to consumer bookings, stifling the aviation sector’s recovery.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, which represents major UK airlines and carriers, echoed the criticisms.

“Passengers still don’t know what tests they’ll be asked to take,” he said. The details are important, and it will obviously take time to work through them, but we need to know now so that people can plan ahead.

“This is a hugely important week, not just for carriers, but also for families who need to get away.” The assurance that they will not have to undergo costly PCR tests is critical.”

Half-term holidays begin this Friday in some areas of England, with other schools in England and Wales following in the last week of October.

Northern Ireland’s schools are only closed for a few days in October, and Scotland’s half-term has already passed.

Booking stressful

According to Rory Boland, travel editor at consumer magazine Which? “The government encouraged travellers to postpone booking tests for half-term vacations until more information about which tests were required was released. Those particulars never arrived. ” ” The risk now is that an unprecedented number of people rush to book last-minute tests through a testing system that has repeatedly demonstrated its inability to handle the volume of people travelling “Booking travel is stressful in the current climate and necessitates a significant amount of research. But how can you complete your homework if the government refuses to tell you what the questions are?”

Despite the fact that many travellers have put international travel on the back burner, as demand has increased, so has the desire to visit popular destinations this half term.

“Majorca, Canaries, and Turkey, in particular, are very popular,” Jet2 added.

“From late October, eligible fully vaccinated passengers, including under-18s, returning from a rest of world country will have the option to replace their day two test with a cheaper lateral flow test, followed by a free PCR test if positive, reducing the cost of tests on arrival in England,” the government stated.

The government has always maintained that safeguarding the public health of the United Kingdom is central to travel policy.

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