Travel: PCR test scrap to save families '£200' says expert
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From October 24, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps has announced that day two PCR tests for travellers arriving in the UK will be scrapped. More affordable lateral flow tests will replace them, however, these travel rules will only apply to people who are considered fully vaccinated by the UK Government.
What are the new rules for travel from October 24?
From October 24, travellers arriving in the UK from any country not on the red list will be able to take a lateral flow test on day two of their arrival instead of a PCR test.
These lateral flow tests must be booked using a private provider, specified on the Government’s approved list.
NHS provided tests must not be utilised to facilitate travel, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
Tests must be pre-booked and the reference code included on a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) for each arrival into the country.
A statement from the Department of Transport reads: “From 4am on October 24, arrivals into England who are considered fully vaccinated, along with most under 18s, who have not been in a red list country in the last 10 days will be able to take a lateral flow test on or before day two of their arrival, instead of a PCR test.”
The aim of this change is to “cut the costs of tests in time for travellers returning from half-term breaks” according to the Government.
This latest change comes hot on the heels of the removal of pre-departure lateral flow tests for fully vaccinated people hoping to enter the UK.
The Government also recently axed the green and amber lists, merging them into one straight-forward non-red list.
Arrivals from red list countries remain subject to testing and hotel quarantine.
When can I book a lateral flow test instead of a PCR test?
The Department of Transport has said that lateral flow tests will be available to be booked from October 22.
The Government authority added: “Passengers will need to take a photo of their lateral flow test result and send it back to their private testing provider for verification.
“Anyone who tests positive will need to self-isolate and take free NHS confirmatory PCR test.”
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How does the UK Government define fully vaccinated?
According to Gov.uk: “Fully vaccinated means that you have had a complete course of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before you arrive in England.
“The day you had your final dose does not count as one of the 14 days.”
The vaccine must have been administered under either the UK vaccination programme or an overseas vaccination programme with an approved proof of vaccination for travel to the UK.
Most recently, the Government has expanded its list of countries whose vaccines are recognised.
Furthermore, from the end of October, the Department of Transport says it will “also recognise as fully vaccinated people participating in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials from countries and territories including Japan, Canada, Australia and the EU, provided they can supply adequate proof of their participation.”
What are the rules for unvaccinated arrivals?
Unvaccinated arrivals into England will continue to face pre-departure tests, as well as day two and day eight PCR tests.
They will also be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days, although the test to release scheme remains an option to reduce this period.
What are the rules for children?
In a tweet, Mr Shapps confirmed that under-18s are “exempt” from quarantine unless returning from a red list destination.
He wrote: “Under-18s resident in the UK are actually already exempt from self-isolation on arrival – there isn’t anything new here.”
Children do not need to take a pre-departure test when coming back to England, however, whether or not they need to take a day two tests depends on their age.
Those aged four and under, who are residents in the UK or from a country with an approved vaccine programme, do not have to take any COVID-19 tests for travel, even if they are having to take part in red list hotel quarantine.
Those aged between five and 10 must take a day two test after arriving in England.
Red list arrivals between five and 10 must take two COVID-19 tests during their quarantine.
Children aged between 11 and 17 must take a day two test upon arrival in England.
Children between these ages must also enter into hotel quarantine if returning from a red list country, as well as taking a pre-departure test and two tests during their quarantine period.
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