Travel: Simon Calder discusses taking PCR tests

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Jetting off on holiday comes with a new list of requirements for Britons to follow. Testing is a key factor for facilitating travel both to and from the UK, which has been in place since the UK Government’s traffic light system was introduced on May 7, 2021.

Under these rules, even arrivals entering the UK from green list countries must take a Covid test before travel and one on day two of their return.

Yet, according to travel expert Simon Calder, there is a crucial mistake some Britons are making when it comes to booking these tests.

Writing in the Independent Mr Calder urged those with travel plans “not even to think about booking the so-called ‘day two’ test until the night before departure back to the UK – or even on the day of travel.”

According to Mr Calder, booking a day two test in advance could end up seeing travellers lose out if the testing requirements are suddenly axed.

The travel expert warned: “There is no upside to booking it any earlier, in my opinion.”

He explained: “Sooner or later, Government ministers will notice – perhaps starting with the Treasury wondering where all the tax revenues from the travel industry have gone.

“At that point, the testing regime will be taken down several notches. I do not know when that will be, but I do know that the testing rules cannot get any sillier.

“So there is always a chance the requirement will be dropped before you are due to travel home.”

However, Britons should make sure to book the test before travel, as the test’s unique reference code will need to be added to the passenger locator form.

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What are the current testing rules for green list arrivals?

Travellers returning to the UK from green list countries must take a pre-departure Covid test in the three days before their departure.

This rule applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers.

They must also book and pay for a day two COVID-19 test to be taken after arrival in England, and complete a passenger locator form.

Simon Calder points out: “The PCR test is misleadingly described as ‘day two’, but it can be taken on the day you return or one of the two following days.

“The Government provides a list of suppliers, many of which have questionable reputations.

“For maximum public health benefit and minimum hassle, the obvious choice is a test at the airport on arrival.”

What are the current testing rules for amber list arrivals?

Passengers arriving from amber list countries must take a pre-departure Covid test in the three days before travel.

This rule applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers.

Those who are fully vaccinated do not need to self-isolate on their return to the UK but must pre-book and pay for a day two test.

Unvaccinated travellers do face self-isolation for 10 days.

They must pre-book and pay for both a day two and day eight test.

What are the current testing rules for red list arrivals?

Only UK and Irish residents and citizens are permitted to enter the UK from a red list country.

They must then undertake a quarantine period of 10 days (11 nights) in a Government-approved hotel.

This must be booked and paid for in advance.

One adult in one room for the 10 day period costs £2,285 according to the Gov.uk website.

The additional rate for one adult, or a child over the age of 11, is £1,430.

The additional rate for a child aged between five and 11 is £325.

There is no charge for a child under the age of five.

During this period, two PCR tests must be taken.

According to the Gov.uk website: “The cost of managed quarantine includes food, transport, security, testing and essential wraparound services, such as medical care and welfare checks.”

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