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Move to lateral flow tests instead of PCR for holidaymakers returning to England

Fully vaccinated people arriving in England from countries not on the red list can take a cheaper and quicker lateral flow test rather than the PCR version from October 24.

The change to the post-arrival day two test will come into effect for those returning from half-term breaks.

The guidance is currently for arrivals in England only but for practical purposes, Scotland normally aligns with the UK post-arrival testing regime.

Passengers must upload a photo of their test and booking reference supplied by the private provider to verify results as soon as possible, with free confirmatory NHS PCR tests for any positive cases, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Eligible travellers will be able to order lateral flow tests from private testing providers, with a list of approved private providers going live on GOV.UK on October 22.

Passengers are also able to book to have a test which they can take on their arrival into the UK at testing centres located in some airports.

Anyone who tests positive will need to self-isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We want to make going abroad easier and cheaper, whether you’re travelling for work or visiting friends and family.

“Lateral flow tests will be available later this month for those returning from half-term holidays.

“This change to testing is only possible thanks to the incredible progress of our vaccination programme, which means we can safely open up travel as we learn to live with the virus.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today’s rule changes will make testing on arrival simpler and cheaper for people across the country who are looking forward to well-earned breaks for this October half-term.

“Taking away expensive mandatory PCR testing will boost the travel industry and is a major step forward in normalising international travel and encouraging people to book holidays with confidence.”

Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “It’s progress but if you’re fully jabbed you shouldn’t need to take a test at all.

“Testing measures are not only a faff for many but also amount to a tax on travel and put off people from booking with confidence, due to the higher costs.

“These barriers certainly won’t help the travel sector to recover as quickly as it should be by now.

“In addition, I don’t have to be tested if I return from a packed football stadium so why should I have to take a test returning from a business meeting or villa holiday?”

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