Travel: PCR test scrap to save families '£200' says expert
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The news comes too late for many Welsh holidaymakers half-term breaks. The Welsh Health Minister, Eluned Morgan, said she was making the change “reluctantly” and said Wales had not received sufficient information from the UK to make the changes in time for October 24.
Morgan said: “We are unable to introduce the changes at the same time as we have not received sufficient or timely information from the UK Government on how these changes will operate in practice.
“This is not ideal. We remain concerned about the UK Government’s approach- and the speed at which it is opening up international travel and its decisions to change the border health measures which are important protections to prevent the risk of new cases- and new variants of coronavirus- from entering the UK.
“We have consistently urged the UK Government to take a precautionary approach towards reopening international travel.
“However, it is difficult for us to adopt a different testing regime to that required by the UK Government, as the majority of Welsh travellers enter the UK through ports and airports in England.
“Having different testing requirements would cause significant practical problems, confusion among the travelling public, logistical issues, enforcement at our borders and disadvantages for Welsh businesses.
“We have reached this decision by balancing the public health needs with those of the travel sector against a backdrop of the increasing opening up of international travel.
“Having considered the implications in detail, I have reluctantly decided that for practical reasons close alignment with the UK Government’s arrangements is the most viable option.”
The Health Minister added that she urged people to only travel internationally for essential reasons.
She said: “We continue to encourage people to only travel for essential reasons.
“I am concerned that in its haste to introduce these latest changes to international travel, the UK Government has created a system which lacks oversight and standards for the market to operate with.”
Ms Morgan said she had written to the Department of Health and Social Care to request PCR tests would be automatically sent to those testing positive with day two lateral flow tests.
Ms Morgan said she did not want to see a “race to the bottom” with lateral flow providers as she said had been seen with PCR tests.
She also stated that decisions on international travel must be taken on a “true four-nation basis.”
From Sunday October 31, Welsh travellers from non-red list countries will be able to take a lateral flow test on or before day two after arrival.
Lateral flow tests are cheaper than PCR tests, costing around £25 per test on average although passengers must use a Government approved provider.
The UK Government list of approved providers was released on October 22 online, although the website suffered from technical difficulties on the first day.
People arriving in England from abroad will be able to take the lateral flow tests from October 24.
Concerns about rising Covid cases in the UK prompted Morocco to ban British tourists this week.
There are fears among some travel experts that other countries could follow if Covid levels are not reduced.
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