A leading voice from within the UK’s struggling travel industry has called for Covid-19 testing for international travelers to be scrapped completely for most travelers. The mandatory testing required for people flying into the UK has been a controversial issue, with interested parties raising the matter several times during the pandemic, with some concessions offered by the government as a result.
Seen by some as too expensive and too prohibitive for the everyday traveler, the UK’s overuse of mandatory Covid-19 testing has been highlighted as one of the reasons why international travel failed to hit the highs it perhaps should have done this summer -but it is far from the only reason travel stalled for the UK. Here’s a look at why travel groups want the testing to be removed, plus other faults they’ve raised with the UK’s current travel restrictions.
Controversial Covid-19 Tests – Information For Travelers
The UK’s use of Covid-19 tests is widespread throughout its entry restrictions. Those returning from amber list countries – regardless of vaccination status – must book and pay for tests to be taken when back in the UK. Vaccinated returnees from amber countries take a test on or before their second day in the UK, whilst unvaccinated travelers are subjected to two tests, on or before days 2 and 8. Even those coming from green list countries – the safest countries – must pay for a test to be taken upon their return.
Such restrictions have come under severe fire from travel groups in the past, who labeled the price of the Covid-19 as too high and a barrier to wider travel for the masses. As a result of such protests, the UK’s government lowered the price of the mandatory tests for many travelers, from £170 for two to £136. However, for some the reduction in the price of the test wasn’t enough – they want to see testing scrapped completely for most travelers.
Travel organisation ABTA, an association of travel agents and tour operators, say that the UK should remove testing for fully vaccinated travelers returning to the UK from low-risk countries – a restriction they blame for the low numbers of British travelers heading on vacation over the summer.
According to ABTA, foreign holiday bookings for summer 2021 were down 83% compared to 2019, whilst 58% of bookings scheduled for July or August this year had to be postponed or cancelled. ABTA feel that removing testing restrictions would result in more travelers taking international trips, which could then potentially save thousands of jobs in the travel industry.
Whilst yet to be confirmed, there have been strong hints that the UK could move away from PCR testing in the coming weeks, in favor of cheaper lateral flow tests for travel. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he wanted to get rid of PCR tests as see on as possible, and hinted that they could be gone when the Transport Secretary issues an update later this week.
Such a change would kick off what is set to be a period of upheaval as far as the UK’s travel restrictions are concerned. According to the BBC, the UK is also considering abandoning its traffic light system and moving towards a different travel system in the coming weeks – a move that is bound to be welcomed by both travelers and the travel industry alike.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories