The UK government has lowered the price of its mandatory Covid-19 testing kits following months of complaints from the struggling travel industry, the general public and vocal members of the political opposition parties. A mandatory requirement for travelers arriving from specific countries, travelers have to take several costly tests upon their return to the UK during their period of isolation.
The reduction in the price of Covid-19 testing is set to be welcomed as a positive decision by the government, at a time when it is facing constant heavy scrutiny from all sides regarding its policies for international travel. Here’s a closer look at what has changed, who the change is set to affect and whether or not any more changes might be on the way.
Test Price Lowered – What Travelers Should Know
Ever since the UK launched its controversial traffic light system for international travel back in May of this year, it has undergone a series of changes and alterations regarding its rules and regulations. One such significant change was allowing those who are fully vaccinated to travel from an amber country to the UK without needing to isolate, having previously needed to isolate for a period of 10 days under the original terms of the traffic light system.
However, with unvaccinated travelers returning from amber countries still needing to self-isolate, it is this group that will be affected by the change in the price of Covid-19 tests. Whilst the NHS provides test kits for free for those with symptoms in the UK, those returning from international travel must pay for them. These travelers have to be tested twice during their 10-day period of isolation, on day 2 and once more on day 8.
Luckily for them, the price change will see them save money, as the British government bowing to sustained pressure over the price of the tests. The tests used to cost £170 for two, but will now be available for just £136 – a saving of £34, or around $50. The reduction does not apply to those arriving from red list countries, or those who arrange their tests privately – it will only affect amber country arrives who purchase tests from the NHS.
More price reductions could however be on the way, as the British Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced a “rapid internal review” of the price of private Covid-19 testing was currently underway. Javid said:
“I’ve ordered my department to urgently review the list of private providers on gov.uk to ensure pricing is clearer and transparent. Any provider found to be misleading the public will be kicked off. Too many providers are acting like cowboys and that needs to stop. The public should be allowed to enjoy their summer holidays without having to face excessive costs or anxiety.”
The price of Covid-19 testing has long been a source of debate in the UK, with travel companies accusing the government of making international travel a privilege that only the wealthy could afford due to the high costs associated with testing. By lowering the price of the tests, it will make travel more accessible for a wider group of people, and could result in a miniature travel boom in these last remaining weeks of summer.
It is not the first time the British government has bowed to pressure from the public, with the government recently scrapping plans for an amber plus list which would have seen vaccinated visitors returning from France needing to self-isolate. With the government keen to curry favor with the public, more changes could well be on the way in future. For up to date information on which countries make up the green, amber and red lists, please check here.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Wednesday 25th of August 2021
My wife, who is fully vaccinated, had to self-isolate and take 6 tests when she traveled to the UK from Canada. A test before leaving Canada, 2 tests are required in the UK on day 2 and 8, plus a "special test" on day 5 to allow her to end self-isolation early (though she was still required to take the day 8 test), a test before leaving the UK and a test on arrival in Canada. All the tests are a nuisance but the real problem is the difficulty in arranging them and the uncertainty around result times.
The tests cost more than the return ticket. Yes really. And she was left scrambling on the last day as the test result she needed to board her return flight was not processed in the "guaranteed" time. A quick turn around time is necessary because tests must be within a certain time frame before the flight.
She ended up driving to the airport and lining up at another testing site before it opened so she could have an additional test. It was an express site and was able to get the result to her in 3 hours, just in time for her flight.