Simon Calder says current UK travel rules are a ‘mess’
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As the traffic light system is shelved in favour of more simple travel rules for vaccinated travellers, travel is set to get a lot cheaper. The testing requirements to re-enter the UK are changing to allow a lateral flow test rather than a PCR. But you can’t use free NHS tests, so what are the cheapest lateral flow tests available?
Once the travel lists are scrapped, and the new simplified system comes into effect on October 4, you will soon be able to travel using just a lateral flow test to return to the UK.
Grant Shapps, Secretary for Transport, tweeted the update saying: “TRAVEL UPDATE: we’re making testing easier for travel From Mon 4 Oct, if you’re fully vax you won’t need a pre-departure test before arrival into England from a non-red country and from later in Oct, will be able to replace the day 2 PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow.”
You cannot use NHS lateral flow tests to travel or to return to the UK, but there are providers offering cheap lateral flow tests for travellers.
Don’t forget the UK only sets the rules for returning to the UK, you’ll also have to check the entry requirements for your destination as they may require you to take extra tests before flying or on arrival.
How much does a lateral flow test for travel cost?
As lateral flow tests – sometimes also called antigen tests – for travel are being provided by private companies, they are available at a wide range of price points.
Tui is offering a lateral flow you can take before your trip and a PCR test you’ll take a couple of days after your return, including delivery, for just £20.
British Airways is offering an at-home lateral flow test kit for £18.80, containing one test.
While easyJet is offering a day two lateral flow test for prices from £43 (at home) to £55.80 (in person).
Jet2’s guide to testing has a directory of tests with prices starting from £18.80.
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What are the new travel rules in full?
On Monday, October 4 the current traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries and territories.
Everywhere else will be under the ‘rest of the world’ rules.
From the end of October, fully vaccinated travellers can replace their day two PCR test with a lateral flow instead.
Fully vaccinated travellers will also not need to take pre-departure tests if they are travelling to the UK from non-red list countries.
Unvaccinated travellers will still need a pre-departure test, a day two and day eight PCR test, as well as self-isolation for 10 days after returning from a non-red list country.
Unvaccinated people will still have the test to release option open to them, where they can shorten their isolation period with a negative test on day five.
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