Covid test: Simon Calder says holidaymakers ‘ripped off’
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The Government in Wales has taken a different approach to England when it comes to travel rules. While tourists from England can purchase post-travel PCR tests from any approved provider, tourists in Wales must buy tests from the NHS.
NHS PCR tests are more expensive than those offered by some other providers, leading to Welsh tourists paying more for holidays.
Every double-vaccinated Welsh traveller is required to take a PCR test on day two after arrival in Wales.
Unvaccinated passengers must also take a second PCR test on day eight after arriving in Wales.
The NHS tests cost £68 each, adding a hefty bill to any Welsh tourists’ holiday.
The price of the test has been particularly irritating to Welsh tourists as English tourists can buy cheaper tests from private companies.
Private testing in England costs about £50 with varying prices from a range of companies offering the service.
Welsh tourists faced a fine of £1000 if they used a private test rather than purchasing from the NHS.
Even if a Wales resident landed at an airport in England, they still had to buy a test from the NHS.
Conservative MP, David TC Davies, had asked the monopolies watchdog to investigate the Welsh Government’s decision.
The Welsh Government had argued that NHS testing was safest and ensured any new variants were identified as quickly as possible.
However, the UK Government has recently agreed to tighten rules on private testing providers to eliminate inaccurate results.
The Welsh Government has now said that the new measures will ensure private tests are processed to the standard of the NHS.
From September 21, Welsh tourists will have a choice of testing providers and will be able to choose based on price.
Wales Health Minister, Eluned Morgan, said: “We’ve been putting a lot of pressure on the UK Government to come in with measures that would give us a lot of confidence that if people were to use these private tests they would be of a particular standard.
“Given the new regulations and the impact on standards for private tests, we will make changes to the rules to enable people travelling to Wales to book tests with private sector providers, if they wish.”
The Health Minister said that NHS tests would still be available to book for those that preferred to use the service for their PCR test.
She said: “It’s important to remember that coronavirus is still with us, and our advice continues to be that people should avoid all non-essential international travel.”
The Welsh Conservatives said the new policy was a “belated U-turn” which would be “little consolation” to families.
Tourists from Wales had complained that the policy of purchasing tests from the NHS was “unfair”.
Welsh tourists will now have much more choice when it comes to PCR tests after travelling abroad.
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