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The UK government will trade PCR tests for lateral flow tests for vaccinated international travellers from October 24.
According to Gov.UK, fully vaccinated travellers arriving in England from non-red list countries can take the lateral flow test on or before the second day of their arrival. This cheaper alternative to PCR tests also offers faster results.
The list of approved private providers will be available on GOV.UK on October 22.
Gov.UK emphasised that lateral flow tests for international travel need to be purchased from a private provider. “NHS Test and Trace tests cannot be used for international travel,” it revealed.
Secretary of State for Transport of the United Kingdom Grant Shapps believes that the changes are a step closer to fully reopening travel following the effects of the pandemic.
“The 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 (a short holiday in the middle of a school term),” said Shapps.
He said “taking away expensive mandatory PCR testing will boost the travel industry and is a major step forward in normalising international travel”.
He hoped the lateral flow test gave people the confidence to book holidays.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care of the United Kingdom, Sajid Javid, agreed.
“We want to make going abroad easier and cheaper, whether you’re travelling for work or visiting friends and family.
“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,” he said.
According to Dr Jenny Harries, the Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), testing as early as possible on arrival and isolation when necessary can help control the spread of the virus and protect one another.
So, how will it work?
Eligible travellers vaccinated in over 100 countries and territories, including returning UK residents, Brazil, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey, need to complete a passenger locator form before travel.
From October 22, travellers can upload their test booking reference to the passenger locator form for arrivals in the UK.
To verify their lateral flow test results, passengers must submit a photo of the test along with a booking reference provided by the private provider.
Some airports offer testing centres where passengers can take a test upon arrival. Pre-booking is essential. Those who have a negative PCR test do not need to get another test.
Passengers who aren’t fully vaccinated with an authorised vaccine returning from a non-red destination have to take a pre-departure test, a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 test and complete 10 days self-isolation, with the option of Test to Release on day 5.
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