PCR tests for vaccinated travellers to be replaced with lateral flow tests


Article updated 20/10/21

The rules on travel outside of the UK have been cautiously lifting since the beginning of October. As well as scrapping the amber list for a single red list, the government also announced that those who have been double vaccinated no longer need to take a day 2 PCR test upon returning to the country from 24th October.

With half-term holidays just around the corner, the most recent changes will be welcome news for many wanting to get away for an autumn break. PCR tests, which are currently mandatory for those travelling back from another country, can cost around £75 per person – costs which can certainly add up with group or family breaks.

Under the new rules, any traveller who takes a lateral flow test and gets a positive result will still need to self-isolate and take a free PCR test to confirm their results. Travellers will need to source a lateral flow test from a government-approved provider. This is a much cheaper option for travellers, as lateral flow tests generally cost around £20-40 per person.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has praised the upcoming change, commenting that it will make travel ‘simpler’ for those travelling back to England. Likewise, many airlines are happy that the new changes are coming into place. Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, stated that they are ‘pleased to get it over the line in time for the crucial half-term period.’

Although Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have previously aligned with UK rules on travel restrictions, there has been some criticism of the move to replace PCR tests with lateral flows, which are currently only applicable to England. The Welsh government has stated that the new rules for English travellers will ‘considerably increase’ the risk of new Covid variants entering the UK. At the moment, the UK is still experiencing the highest number of cases in western Europe and recording the highest level of deaths.

What if I’m unvaccinated at the time of travel?

If you haven’t had both Covid vaccines and decide to travel outside of the UK, the PCR rules will still apply. You will need to pay for a PCR test in the three days before returning to the UK, isolate for ten days upon your return, and also take a test on the second and eighth day of your isolation.

Travel to red list countries is still unadvisable, unless you have a serious reason for travelling. You can find the full red list of countries on the government website here.

For those going abroad this autumn, it looks as though things are slowly returning to normal when it comes to holidays outside of the UK. Before you set off, be sure to read the government advice on how to keep safe when travelling; it might also be a good idea to keep checking the gov.uk website in case any changes are announced.

What other protection do I need to travel?

It’s a good idea to make sure your travel insurance is up to date and covers what you need it to. Not all policies will automatically take Covid-related delays into account, and you don’t want to be caught out.

To speak to us about your travel insurance needs, please call a member of the team on 0121 248 9440.

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