Spain's tourism sector is to be given a welcome boost after the UK government announced that it planned to scrap PCR testing for travellers. As a result of the move, those who are fully vaccinated would no longer need to provide a PCR test on their return to the UK.
Speaking to Sky News today, Monday, September 13, the UK’s Health Secretary Savid Javid said “We have got a huge number of defences; of course we still want to remain very cautious, and there are some things that - when it comes to travel for example - there are some rules that are going to have to remain in place.
“But the PCR that is required upon your return to the UK from certain countries, look, I want to try and get rid of that as soon as I possibly can.”
“I am not going to make that decision right now, but I have already asked officials that at the moment we can, let’s get rid of this kind of intrusions, the costs that generate for families, particularly families just trying to go out and holiday.
“We shouldn’t be keeping anything like that in place for a second longer than is absolutely necessary,” added the Health secretary.
The news will bring joy to many as countless holidaymakers, British expats and their family and friends, have delayed holiday plans for the exact reason of the overpriced PCR test that is needed when returning to the UK.
There is hope that the new law regarding the tests will be in place just in time for the October half-term holidays, as Mr Javid said that he is fully aware of the extortionate costs involved in providing a PCR test.
The cost of the tests has been a source of resentment within the UK travel industry, which have been protesting about the overpriced tests for months, stating that prospective tourists were being ‘put off’ from travelling. An online petition calling on the government to provide free PCR tests for travellers has attracted almost 400,000 signatures.
The price of an NHS Covid test for international travel currently stands at £68, this has been reduced from the previous price of £88.
On another note, some private companies have been accused of malpractice and exploitation due to the pricing they are charging for the tests.
Just last month the Health Secretary announced a “rapid internal review” of prices charged by government-approved companies after claims holidaymakers were being exploited.
Then on Friday the Competition and Markets Authority stepped in and called on the government to intervene in the PCR testing market and tighten up rules for all providers.
The Business Travel Association (BTA) carried out a survey where more than 500 people who travelled outside of the UK between January and August, answered a series of questions.
The results showed that on returning to the UK, 76% of travellers said that the UK Border Force did not look at or verify their PCR test results.
It also showed that a whopping 97% of 486 people questioned said that nobody had asked to see their day 2 or day 8 PCR test on their return to the UK.
97% of travellers also believed that PCR testing should be removed for fully vaccinated travellers returning from ‘green list’ countries and 86% of travellers think it should be removed for ‘amber list’ countries. Only 13% said it should be removed for those on the ‘red list’.
Speaking on behalf of the BTA, chief executive Clive Wratten said, “The findings from our latest travel survey are shocking. It is appalling to see over 75% of people travelling throughout the last eight months have not been asked to show their PCR tests on arrival to the UK, some of which cost over £100 to take.
“Expensive PCR testing should be scrapped along with pre-departure testing for the fully vaccinated to align the UK with most other countries across the EU as there is nothing to indicate that these are a public health measure.
“Particularly now with the government making so many exemptions for many large events such as football matches, festivals, London Fashion Week and the COPSummit – so why is it different for travel?"
At present, all passengers arriving in the UK from the green list or amber countries who have been fully vaccinated must take a PCR test on or before day two after they arrive.
Ministers are also getting ready to scrap the entire travel traffic light system. This will see ‘green’ and ‘amber list’ countries treated exactly the same. The ‘red list’ country rules, however, will remain the same.
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