UK health secretary says PCR tests for travel are too expensive

Aug 9, 2021

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U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid has echoed the thoughts of many British travellers this summer: The cost of COVID-19 tests are a barrier to travel.

Since international leisure travel resumed on 17 May, travellers have been forced to arrange at least two COVID-19 tests to return to the United Kingdom (a cheaper lateral flow/antigen test prior to departure and a more expensive Day 2 PCR test).

This rule applies even if travellers are returning from a “safe” green country and are fully vaccinated.

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While the costs of these tests have fallen sharply over the last 12 months, a family of four can still expect to pay more than £300 to return to the U.K. even from a green list country.

“People should be able to go on holiday, whether it’s to see family or just to relax, without fearing excessive fees for PCR tests,” Javid said on Twitter.

Related: What kind of COVID-19 test do I need to travel and how much does it cost?

Javid’s comments come after images surfaced on social media of PCR tests piled high above unsecured Randox drop boxes, where anyone could come along and tamper with these tests before they’re processed.

Randox is one of the largest COVID-19 private testing providers in the country, and it has hugely benefited from the government’s strict testing rules.

Javid said he asked the Competition and Markets Authority to crack down on what he feels are unfair market practices set by these testing providers. Though some providers are charging high prices for these tests, they are following the government-mandated requirements for travellers to purchase these tests regardless of the destination they’re returning from, or their vaccination status.

Featured image by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy

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