There’s finally set to be some good news for travellers and the travel industry from the 4th of October.
The current mandatory pre-departure PCR tests when returning to the UK are set to be written off for fully vaccinated travellers from October. The day 2 PCR tests which are currently to be taken two days after arriving in the UK are set to be replaced with lateral flow tests; a cheaper and faster test that provides travellers with on-the-spot results within 15 minutes.
This is a welcomed change by many travellers with PCR tests being universally unpopular due to the high cost and long-winded nature of the test. The requirement that a sample must be sent to a lab for processing before receiving results through an SMS or e-mail can cause delays and complications which has caused a considerable decline in the amount of people wanting to leave the country due to worries about things going awry.
Despite the high cost and lengthy process of PCR tests, they do provide a much more accurate result compared to the standard lateral flow test and aid much more in preventing the spread of the virus due to the strict rules and professional processing.
Why have they been scrapped?
The government has deemed this to be an appropriate and safe change to the rules in light of the success of the vaccine programme rollout, with more than 44 million UK adults having received both doses. With 81% of the adult population in the UK now being fully vaccinated, the extra added level of caution that PCR tests provide has been perceived by many experts as an unnecessary added cost for travellers and airlines.
What does this mean for travellers?
Travellers will now no longer need to perform a PCR test before or after arrival in the UK if they are fully vaccinated, which is a cost saving benefit of potentially hundreds of pounds for families and employers.
From October 4th, fully vaccinated travellers will only be required to perform a lateral flow test which can be done anywhere and will provide a near instant result within 15 minutes.
For travellers who are half or un-vaccinated, the process will evolve into a slightly more complex ordeal. Unvaccinated travellers arriving into the UK after the 4th October from any country will have to self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival, which can be reduced to a 5 day period if a 5 day test is taken. If not, a day 2 and 8 test will be required and the full 10 day isolation will remain in place, although as long travellers are not returning from a red list country; they will be allowed to isolate at home.
While these rules will be set to apply to travellers returning to the UK from October 4th, rules for travelling to other territories will vary and are constantly evolving. It is important to check the .gov website before travelling for all updated travel rules and guidelines.