Yesterday the Government announced that, from 24 October, fully vaccinated passengers into England from countries not on the red list will no longer be required to take a PCR test on arrival, replacing them with a cheaper lateral flow test and making it both easier and cheaper for families to go abroad this half term.
Testing, along with vaccinations, remains one of our first lines of defence against COVID-19, but it is clear the mandatory PCR testing made travelling expensive for many families. That is why the Government has replaced mandatory PCR testing with cheaper lateral flow tests for those arriving into England from a non-red list country – the new tests can be booked from October 22 and passengers will need to take a photo of their result on or before day two of their arrival into the UK.
Eligible travellers will be able to order cheaper lateral flow tests from private testing providers as an alternative to a PCR, offering faster results. The list of approved private providers will go live on GOV.UK on 22 October.
Passengers will need to take a photo of their lateral flow test and booking reference supplied by the private provider and send it back to them to verify the result. Passengers are also able to book to have a test which they can take on their arrival into the UK at testing centres located in some airports.
Those that have already bought a PCR do not need to buy another test. The arrival test must be taken as soon as possible on or before the second day of a passenger’s arrival in the UK. Lateral flow tests for international travel must be purchased from a private provider as NHS Test and Trace tests cannot be used for international travel.
The Government is able to make this change thanks to the success of the vaccination programme both in the UK and around the world which has protected millions of people and reduced the risks of opening up international travel.
Anyone who tests positive will need to self-isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test. PCR tests can be accessed free of charge by ordering in the usual way through NHS Test and Trace – via nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. Providers will be expected to advise people to self-isolate and direct people towards the NHS Test and Trace booking page.
These travel rule changes will make testing on arrival simpler and cheaper for people across the country who are looking forward to well-earned breaks this October half term. For any more information on the Government’s latest travel update, including comments from the Health and Social Care and Transport secretaries, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/lateral-flow-tests-to-be-introduced-for-vaccinated-international-arrivals.