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England To Drop PCR Tests In Exchange For Easier Testing On Arrival

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England is set to change its Covid-19 testing requirements for inbound travelers from October 24th. The news of the change of testing requirements was mentioned weeks ago, but issues regarding testing kit supplies led to the date not being confirmed. However, the date from which the change will take place and become policy  was confirmed this week by the British Transport Secretary. 

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Testing to enter the UK has been a controversial matter throughout the course of the pandemic, with critics labeling it as too expensive and too frequent. However, the upcoming change is a move that is widely expected to be welcomed by both travelers and the travel industry. Here's a closer look at what exactly is changing for travelers and what the Covid-19 situation is like in the country at present.

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Testing Policy To Change – What Travelers Should Know

The UK’s policies towards testing for Covid-19 upon entry to the country have been criticized several times throughout the pandemic. Firstly, accusations that they were to expensive and therefore a barrier to travel for many families led to the price of the PCR tests being reduced. Following this, there were then claims that the UK tested fully-vaccinated travelers too much. Fortunately, as was the case with the price of the tests, the government listened and have acted accordingly. 

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England is now set to accept the use of lateral flow tests as a means of testing for travelers entering the country. Fully vaccinated passengers will be able to upload photos of their tests for verification, a move which not only makes travel easier for many, but also cheaper. The new rule is set to come into effect from October 24th, meaning that families in England heading out during the half term holidays could be amongst the first to benefit from the rule change. 

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Revealing the news yesterday, Transport Secretary Grant Scapps tweeted:

“Mandatory PCR tests will be gone in time for October half-term! 👍🏻 for vaccinated adults and families seeking some winter sun abroad ❄️☀️

From 24 Oct take a cheaper lateral flow test on return, to make travelling easier and simpler for everyone”

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The government’s website was then updated with more precise information about the rule change. The use of lateral flow tests is acceptable for fully vaccinated adults and most under-18s. It is only acceptable for those coming from a country that’s not on the red list, and the test can be taken on or before day 2 of their arrival into the UK. Those who test positive will also be given a free NHS PCR test in order to confirm the result.

The rule change has been warmly welcomed by those in the travel industry. Speaking about the move, Tim Alderslade –  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,” before adding that it was “a major step forward that will support the desperately needed recovery of our sector.”

Despite the change of rules, levels of Covid-19 are still on the high side in the UK. The country is currently reporting a daily average of around 40,000 positive cases, whilst registering an average of 120 deaths per week. Two thirds of the country are fully vaccinated.

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