Covid-19: Simon Calder explains when to book travel PCR tests
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Speaking to BBC News from Orlando in Florida, Calder said it was a “very, very difficult” time. The travel expert said he had received questions from many tourists about the new rules.
Calder said: “What you now need to do is on day two or crucially one of the two preceding days, (get a test) so effectively as soon as you arrive.
“In my case, I’m going to be getting a test booked at the airport. It has to be a PCR test and then crucially you have to self-isolate until you get a negative result.
“If you get a positive result of course you need to self-isolate for 10 days, so there’s thousands of British people here in Orlando.
“I’ve been talking to a number of them. They’re mostly cheesed off because they pre-booked their lateral flow tests.
“Some providers are being very good in that they’re offering refunds or allowing people to upgrade to the more expensive slower tests.
“And there’s also a lot of confusion, for instance in England it’s everyone over five that has to take a PCR test and this is assuming that they’re even fully vaccinated or children travelling with fully vaccinated people whereas in Scotland it’s everyone over 11.
“If you’re looking at it from a kind of global perspective then the UK can’t agree on what the ideal rules are, shows the kind of confusion that’s spreading around the world.”
Calder advised travellers to book their test as soon as possible to escape isolation but warned the process was a “spiral of despair”.
He said: “My flight is at [7pm] on Friday. Friday afternoon I shall settle down with a cup of coffee, I shall book my test then.
“There is no benefit that I can see to booking it any earlier in case the rules change again.
“I will then go through the spiral of despair which involves filling in the UK passenger locator form.
“No point doing it any earlier but crucially I am taking that test the moment I step off the aircraft.
“That means I will be able to leave self-isolation as soon as possible. But also from a public health point of view, finding out whether or not I’ve contracted Omicron is pretty crucial sooner rather than later.
“But yes, really important to emphasise, it’s called a day two test, goodness knows why, because I’d call it a ‘do it as soon as you get off the plane’ test.”
He added: “I’ve been talking to lots of people in the travel industry. They’re having a miserable time.
“Easyjet losses, which I calculate at over £2,000 per minute over the past year and that’s slightly less than they lost last year but it’s still not great.
“It’s so difficult. I mean there we were on Saturday afternoon and suddenly the rules changed.
“It took really quite some time for the Government to say when they were going to change.
“There’s this kind of incoherence and misunderstanding and all kinds of misinformation circulating on social media.
“Whether you’re a traveller looking forward to a Christmas holiday, whether you’re a travel agent looking forward to someone coming in and buying a holiday from you, it’s all based on confidence. It’s based on people looking forward to great trips.”
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