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The UK is ditching PCR tests for travel from the end of this month

You’ll be able to book the much-cheaper lateral flow tests from October 24

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham

The British government has announced that travellers to the UK will no longer have to take PCR tests to prove they’re not infected with Covid-19. From October 24, cheaper lateral flow tests will be enough to prove travellers are free of the virus.

Grant Shapps, the UK’s transport secretary, said the move would make travel easier and simpler. The changes have been made to coincide with the half-term break (which lasts from October 22 to November 1, for most pupils). It comes after the ‘red list’ was slashed to just seven countries last week

Under the new rules, testing for travel will remain mandatory, but you’ll now be able to book much-cheaper lateral flow tests instead of PCR ones. The free LFTS from the NHS will remain ineligible for travel, however, so you’ll have to buy them privately instead.

Since compulsory PCR tests for travellers were introduced back in January, they’ve been the subject of a lot of controversy. Private firms have profited massively from extortionate pricing in a largely unregulated market, while complaints of test results not being received or logged have been widespread. Worryingly, even companies on the government’s list of ‘approved providers’ have proven unreliable.

Although there were previous worries about PCR tests being supposedly more accurate than lateral flow tests, recent UCL study showed that they aren’t that different. Plus, the vast majority of Covid cases in the UK aren’t coming from abroad any more: they’re being transmitted within the country.

So, got your bags packed already? On October 22 the government will release a list of approved providers of lateral flow tests for travel. Let’s hope this list is more reliable than the last, eh?

Need some travel inspo? Now read our ranking of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world for 2021.

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