TRANSPORT Secretary Grant Shapps has insisted foreign holidays will be able to resume “safely and sustainably” under new Government plans.
But travel firms have slammed measures to force holidaymakers returning from low-risk destinations to take an “expensive and unnecessary” type of coronavirus test.
Mr Shapps announced a “framework” for resuming overseas leisure travel which includes requiring all arrivals to take pre-departure and post-arrival coronavirus tests.
Post-arrival tests must be the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) type which cost around £120, he revealed.
This is despite pleas from the travel sector to allow travellers returning from countries on the “green” list under the new risk-based traffic light system to take lateral flow tests, which are cheaper and quicker.
Mr Shapps said: “The framework announced today will help allow us to reopen travel safely and sustainably, ensure we protect our hard-won achievements on the vaccine rollout and offer peace of mind to both passengers and industry as we begin to take trips abroad once again.”
How the traffic light system will work:
* Green: Passengers will not need to quarantine on return, but must take a pre-departure test, as well as a PCR test on return to the UK
* Amber: Travellers will need to quarantine for 10 days, as well as taking a pre-departure test and two PCR tests
* Red: Passengers will have to pay for a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, as well as a pre-departure test and two PCR tests
The announcement came three days after Boris Johnson pledged to make testing requirements “as affordable as possible”.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren claimed the plan was “a blow to all travellers” and risked “making flying only for the wealthy”.
He added: “As the rest of British society and the economy opens up, it makes no sense to treat travel, particularly to low-risk countries, differently.”
Mark Tanzer, boss of travel trade organisation Abta, said permitting the use of lateral flow tests would “make international travel more accessible and affordable whilst still providing an effective mitigation against reimportation of the virus”.
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