Date confirmed that PCR tests will be replaced for vaccinated British travellers
The UK Government has confirmed that from Sunday 24th October PCR tests will be replaced by cheaper lateral flow tests for fully vaccinated travellers, and most under 18s, arriving back in England from countries not on the red travel list, and that they will be available to book via a list of private providers on the GOV.UK website from October 22nd.
Passengers will need to take a photo of their lateral flow test and booking reference supplied by the private provider and send it back to them to verify the result, or can book to have a test which they can take on their arrival into the UK at testing centres located in some airports.
The arrival test must be taken as soon as possible on or before the second day of their arrival in the UK, and anyone who tests positive will need to self-isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test.
The government announced the change “thanks to the success of the vaccination programme both in the UK and around the world which has protected millions of people and reduced the risks of opening up international travel”.
Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK, 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.”
Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said: “Unfortunately, this change has come too late for the half-term holidays in Scotland, impacting the passenger recovery at Scottish airports. It demonstrates the continuing financial impact travel restrictions have on airports and an aviation recovery package should be put in place by the UK and devolved governments urgently.”
“Ultimately, aviation should return to normal, with no additional tests or other requirements. Great strides have been made in recent weeks, but we are not there yet. We will continue to work with the UK and devolved governments to achieve test-free travel in the future, just as our European competitors have.”
Regulations will be extended and a protocol published to allow some tests supplied to the private testing market that are pending validation to remain on the market in the short term. “This is to address any potential shortage of supply while work continues at pace to ensure only high performing tests are ultimately approved to remain on the UK market,” a government statement said.
“The government will continue to publish a list of private testing providers who meet the minimum standards for the public to choose from, with PCR test options available as well. All travellers must continue to complete their Passenger Locator Form prior to travel, including a test booking reference number supplied by a testing provider. Travellers will be able to upload their test booking reference to the Passenger Locator Form from October 22nd for arrival in the UK from October 24th.
“Eligible travellers vaccinated in over 100 countries and territories including Spain, will be treated the same as returning fully vaccinated UK residents. This means they will be eligible for the quarantine exemption and reduced testing measures, including taking just a lateral flow test on arrival, as long as they haven’t visited a red list country or territory in the 10 days before arriving in England. Eligible under 18s from these countries will also be treated as if fully vaccinated.”