Eighteen days after the transport secretary said the post-arrival test for fully vaccinated travellers to the UK had “outlived its usefulness”, the requirement is being scrapped from 4am on 11 February.
He tweeted: “After nearly two years of necessary but complex travel arrangements, these changes will make it cheaper and easier for families to travel, taking advantage of the UK’s high levels of vaccination, and keeping us all safe.”
Since the transport secretary’s original announcement, testing companies have earned an estimated £60m from returning travellers.
During 2020, testing was dismissed by ministers as being ineffective for international travel, but was brought in at scale in May 2021 when a 19-week ban on leisure trips abroad ended – creating a billion-pound industry for testing firms.
Since then the rules have changed frequently. In October 2020, the requirement for a PCR after arrival was downgraded to a cheaper, swifter lateral flow test. But within weeks, PCRs and pre-departure tests were reimposed, along with mandatory quarantine, because of concern about the Omicron variant.
The government says a family will typically save £100 on tests when returning to the UK. But overseas holiday destinations have a range of complex rules, often including testing.
Unvaccinated travellers heading for the UK must take a pre-departure test and, after arrival, a PCR – but will no longer need to self-isolate for 10 days.
All arriving travellers must continue to complete the passenger locator form, which still wrongly states that all travellers must book a post-arrival test.
But double-jabbed travellers can complete it without such a booking.