Grant Shapps warns travellers to hold off on booking travel tests
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In Leicestershire the half-term holiday is from 18-22 October, a week earlier than much of the rest of England which breaks between 25-29 October. Families in the area now fear the Government has forgotten them and they will still have to fork out for PCR tests.
Speaking to the BBC yesterday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said: “I don’t have a date for you as yet.
“I know my colleagues over at the Department of Health and Border Force are working very hard on implementing that, and hopefully in time for people returning from half-term holidays potentially, and certainly by the end of October.”
He said a further announcement would be made “very soon” but left people none the wiser on whether that would be before the end of Leciestershire’s half term.
Last week, Shapps advised Britons to: “Hold off on wanting to book. Not their holiday itself, but which tests they book on the return, whilst these details are finalised.”
With half term now just days away for families in Leicestershire, many are concerned about the delay in news.
Kezza tweeted: “Will the two day PCR be replaced with a lateral flow test in time for all half term breaks as Leicestershire schools are off from 18-22 October?”
Kelly Suffolk tweeted: “A date to scrap the PCR tests would be great before Leicestershire half term mid October…we’re always forgotten.”
Tweeter Synchronicity said: “If I book something last minute will I still need to book a PCR test when I return? Why have they not clarified a precise date?”
Deb said on Twitter: “so they will stop the 2 day PCR in late October meaning half term holidays (here in Leicester starts 16th October ) all families will have to fork out the £69 for each traveller for when they get back ..not really helping the travel industry boost sales for half term.”
Families having to book the PCR tests will face a much higher holiday bill than if they were allowed lateral flow tests.
Many holidaymakers and travel experts have expressed annoyance that the Government is yet to share the date for the change.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid, said last week: “We’re now making it easier and cheaper for people to travel by allowing fully vaccinated travellers from non-red list countries to use lateral flow tests on day two of arrival, as long as they provide proof of use.”
It has been reported that a shortage of lateral flow tests is leading to the delay as well as disagreements within Government on the change.
Shapps said: “The important part of this is making sure that the industry itself is able to provide the tests, and quite a big switch from them from supplying hundreds of thousands of PCR tests and providing those lateral flow test.”
Shapps added: “Double vaccinated people are much less likely to carry variants of concern for one thing, and then secondly the advances in lateral flow tests mean that although they weren’t thought of as being as good previously in perhaps picking it up, a lot of that’s changed.
“The sensitivity and specificity has improved on those tests. The other big advantage with a lateral flow is they’re instant or very nearly – in 15 minutes you’ve got a result.”
The change to lateral flow tests will only apply to fully-vaccinated people and unvaccinated travellers will still have to take a PCR test on day two and eight after arrival in the UK.
Shapps said that the lateral flow tests could potentially be done as soon as travellers are through the gates at Heathrow.
Passengers will also be able to send a photo of their result to prove the result is negative and will not have to take the test on video.
A spokesperson for Department of Health and Social Care told Express.co.uk: “These will come into place by late October and we’ll set out further details shortly.”
It is as yet unknown whether the new lateral flow rule will be brought in in time for every UK family’s half-term holiday.
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