Covid PCR tests for double-vaccinated travellers set to be scrapped, Sajid Javid indicates

Expensive PCR coronavirus tests for fully vaccinated travellers are set to be replaced with cheaper lateral flow tests, the health secretary has indicated.

Sajid Javid, outlining the government's plan for tackling Covid through the winter, told one MP he would be "pleased" with a forthcoming travel announcement after being asked if the government would consider scrapping the mandatory tests.

He told the Commons that changes to the rules for international travel will be announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps "as soon as he is ready", with an announcement expected before the formal review point on October 1.

Fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber list locations, including popular destinations such as France, Italy, Greece and mainland Portugal, are currently required to buy post-arrival PCR tests which typically cost around £65.

Sajid Javid suggested PCR tests would be scrapped while setting out to MPs the government's winter Covid plan. Credit:

Some of the private testing firms listed on the government website have been accused of advertising misleading low prices and providing poor service.

Tory MP Huw Merriman, who chairs the Transport Select Committee, asked the Health Secretary if he would "entertain the idea of moving to lateral flow tests, which are cheaper, and then only the small proportion of positive cases will then need to take up a PCR test".

Mr Javid replied: "I don't want to pre-empt the statement by the Transport Secretary but I believe that when he makes that statement, he will be pleased."

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw echoed Mr Merriman, asking: "When will he scrap the outdated, unnecessary and hugely expensive travel testing regime, save what is left of the industry and end the situation where foreign travel has once again become the preserve of the rich?"

Mr Javid said: "It is important that we have a system of surveillance, especially around variants across the world.

"There are different ways to do that. We have chosen a particular path at the moment, but it is important to have that surveillance.

"As I have alluded to earlier, we are planning to make some changes around the travel regime and the Transport Secretary will come to the House as soon as he is ready."

Coronavirus: What you need to know