Travel test rules set to change - what you need to know

Friday, 15th October 2021, 7:49 am

Bristol Airport

Lateral flow tests will replace PCR tests for fully vaccinated passengers and children arriving in England from non-red list countries from 24 October.

The change to the post-arrival day two test will come into effect in time for families returning from half-term breaks.

Tests will be available to be order from 22 October, and anybody who has already bought a PCR test does not need to buy another test.

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Those who are unvaccinated will still need to take a PCR test on day two after arriving and quarantine for ten days at home.

What are the new rules?

Fully vaccinated passengers returning to England and Wales from non-red list countries will be able to take a cheaper lateral flow test instead of a PCR test. The new rules come into effect from 24 October. 

Eligible travellers will be able to order lateral flow tests from private testing providers, with a list of approved private providers going live on GOV.UK on 22 October. Anybody who has already bought a PCR test to take after arriving does not need to buy another test.

Passengers will also be able to book a test which they can take on their arrival in the UK at testing centres located at some airports. Anyone who tests positive will need to self-isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test. 

The change will come just in time for families returning from half-term holidays, with the rules affecting most under 18s coming from those countries. 

Those who are unvaccinated will still need to take a PCR test on day two after arriving and quarantine for ten days at home.

What’s been said?

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We want to make going abroad easier and cheaper, whether you’re travelling for work or visiting friends and family.

“Lateral flow tests will be available later this month for those returning from half-term holidays.

“This change to testing is only possible thanks to the incredible progress of our vaccination programme, which means we can safely open up travel as we learn to live with the virus.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today’s rule changes will make testing on arrival simpler and cheaper for people across the country who are looking forward to well-earned breaks for this October half-term.

“Taking away expensive mandatory PCR testing will boost the travel industry and is a major step forward in normalising international travel and encouraging people to book holidays with confidence.”

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said: “This is great news and we’re pleased to get it over the line in time for the crucial half-term period, which will be a massive relief to families desperate to get away this autumn.

“Vaccinated passengers can be reassured that they do not need to book or take an expensive PCR test when they return to the UK, which will further reduce the cost of travel.

“It adds to the positive news from last week with the substantial reduction of the red list and announcement of further mutual recognition of vaccines, and taken together this is a major step forward that will support the desperately needed recovery of our sector.”

A version of this article originally appeared on NationalWorld.com