Holidaymakers are poised for a huge boost as ministers indicated that double-jabbed travellers will no longer have to take expensive PCR Covid tests when returning to the UK.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid insisted the rules will not stay in place ‘a second longer than is absolutely necessary’ – amid claims they will be axed in time for the October school half-term.
The change would see travellers spared the need for Covid tests before leaving for Britain, while the unpopular PCR tests currently required on the second day after arrival will be replaced by cheaper lateral flow tests.
The cost of family getaways would be slashed by hundreds of pounds. While PCR tests can cost more than £100, the NHS offers free lateral flow tests.
Speaking on Sky News, Mr Javid said he would drop the PCR requirement as ‘as soon as I possibly can’.
‘I’m not going to make that decision right now, but I’ve already asked the officials that the moment we can, let’s get rid of these kinds of intrusions,’ he said.
‘The cost that generates for families, particularly families just trying to go out and holiday, you know we shouldn’t be keeping anything like that in place for a second longer than is absolutely necessary.’
Health Secretary Sajid Javid insisted the rules will not stay in place ‘a second longer than is absolutely necessary’ – amid claims they will be axed in time for the October school half-term
Travellers will no longer need Covid tests before leaving for Britain, while the unpopular PCR tests currently required on the second day after arrival will be replaced by cheaper lateral flow tests
Current test rules would remain in place for those not double jabbed
The plan will be finalised this week by Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and Mr Javid, who form the so-called Covid-O committee.
The change would also tackle fears that some PCR firms are profiteering and could provide an incentive for people to be vaccinated, as the new rules would only apply to those who have been double jabbed.
At present, the Government requires all those entering the UK to pay for a PCR coronavirus test on or before the second day after their arrival, no matter what their vaccination status. Those arriving from countries on the Government’s amber list also have to take a pre-departure test, which can be a PCR or lateral flow test.
The test is not required for green list countries, while those travelling from red list nations must pay to stay in UK quarantine hotels for ten days.
Travellers will still be required to adhere to the testing rules of the country to which they are travelling but most EU countries have abandoned the requirement for PCR tests for the fully vaccinated.
Details for those under the age of 16 arriving in the UK are still being finalised but the intention is for them to be subject to the same system.
Travellers will still be required to adhere to the testing rules of the country to which they are travelling but most EU countries have abandoned the requirement for PCR tests for the fully vaccinated
Paul Charles, boss of The PC Agency travel firm, said last night: ‘This would be a significant vote-winner with consumers and the industry. It’s exactly what we’ve been calling for because these tests have been expensive and too confusing.
‘It’s a significant move that would boost confidence and help the travel sector recover substantially. It would help airlines, tour operators, and hoteliers, and crucially, it would help the inbound travel industry which is in turmoil.’
Current test rules would remain in place for those not double jabbed. There has been mounting anger about the cost of PCR tests, with a family of four often having to spend £600 or more.
The Competition and Markets Authority last week reported widespread complaints of ‘dodgy pricing practices to unfair terms to failure to provide tests on time or at all’.
On Tuesday, Mr Johnson will set out his plan to combat Covid-19 this winter, when a rise in cases is predicted.
The PM is expected to abandon the controversial idea for nightclubs and major events when he unveils the government’s ‘winter plan’ on Tuesday.
The proposals had come under intense fire from Conservative MPs as ‘unsupportable, coercive and discriminatory’ last week.
He will also scrap some of the swinging powers that the government took to manage the response to the disease, and all-but rule out further lockdowns – after scientists said vaccinations can be an effective first line of defence.
A booster jab programme could begin as early as this month, while other measures in the ‘toolbox’ for tackling outbreaks will include masks.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid gave a strong hint that mandatory Covid passports will not go ahead as he stressed rising vaccination rates and said it would only happen if there is ‘no alternative’.
‘I hope we can avoid it,’ he told Sky News.
The decision would draw another dividing line within the UK, as Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that a certification scheme will be launched in Scotland from October 1.
Officials are working towards scrapping the requirement for green and amber list countries before the half-term holidays next month, The Mail on Sunday can reveal, providing a huge boost for millions of holidaymakers and the beleaguered travel industry
Legal powers in the Coronavirus Act to disrupt education and temporarily shut schools will also be removed, but others – such as giving sick pay to people isolating from day one and being able to direct schools to remain open if they close against Government guidance – will remain.
An announcement on booster jabs is also imminent, with the JCVI widely predicted to back the move.
Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, and his counterparts in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are expected to recommend that vaccinations be given to 12- to 15-year-olds – advice the Prime Minister is set to accept.
Tory MP Robert Halfon last night said that if that happens, Mr Johnson and Professor Whitty should write to all parents in England to ‘explain why they’ve made their decision, the science behind it, and why they’ve made a different decision to the JCVI’. He added that ‘there must be a rule of parental consent, except in the most extreme circumstances’.