Families face paying £600 for tests to go on foreign holidays
Families face having to fork out hundreds of pounds for Covid tests to go on foreign holidays this summer, even if travel bans on some countries are lifted – but new plans would allow fully vaccinated Britons to avoid tests, it has been claimed.
Under the Government’s traffic light system, each traveller will have to take at least two tests on holidays to low-risk ‘green’ destinations, potentially costing at least £600 per family.
One would be taken 72 hours before boarding a UK-bound flight with another two days after arrival. The latter would be for detecting whether travellers have picked up any mutant strains while abroad.
Last night it was claimed that people who have had two doses of the vaccine could avoid quarantining when returning from a medium-risk ‘amber’ country.
Those who are fully vaccinated may only have to have one test upon arriving back in the UK, the Daily Telegraph reported, compared with multiple tests and a ten-day quarantine for the unvaccinated. It was also claimed that vaccinated holidaymakers could return to the UK from a green list county without having to do a test.
A government source said: ‘For amber countries, you would remove home quarantine. The debate is whether there will be any testing required instead of quarantine.’
There could be as few as 12 countries on the government ‘green list’ for quarantine-free travel initially, with more travel options potentially delayed until July or August,.
Plans under consideration by the Government’s global travel taskforce could mean holidaymakers who have been fully vaccinated will be able to return from ‘green list’ countries back to Britain without any tests on arrival, as long as they have negative results from a test taken before they left.
Those who have not been vaccinated would require another test when they get back to the UK.
Fully vaccinated travellers from countries on the ‘amber list’ might need just one further test upon arrival, and avoiding the 10-day home quarantine.
But those who have not been vaccinated would still need to self-isolate for 10 days, being tested on days two and eight.
Travel bans will be in force for ‘red list countries’, and Britons who return from them will have to quarantine in hotels, costing up to £1,750 per person, also being tested on days two and eight.
Studies submitted to ministers considering how to unlock foreign travel show two-test systems are more effective at controlling the spread of infection.
But arranging pre-departure tests abroad could prove a logistical nightmare and alone add at least £400 to the cost of a holiday abroad for a family of four.
The second post-arrival test could put on a further £200.
Destinations are also likely to retain demands for a pre-holiday test to be shown at the border for people not fully vaccinated, potentially adding hundreds more pounds to the cost of a getaway.
The traffic light system could add hundreds of pounds to the cost of family holidays abroad
The pre-departure test before boarding a UK-bound flight could even apply to fully vaccinated travellers
Although ten-day post-arrival quarantine would be dropped for holidaymakers arriving from ‘green’ destinations, many families will be put off by the additional costs and hassle of arranging the tests.
It is understood the pre-departure test before boarding a UK-bound flight may even apply to fully vaccinated people.
Croatia yesterday became the latest country to announce Britons would be welcome this summer.
But unvaccinated visitors will have to show a pre-holiday test taken within 48 hours upon entry.
Holidaymakers staying for two weeks would be required to take a second test by the tenth day.
It means unvaccinated tourists on longer stays would face having to take four tests in total even if the country makes it on to the Government’s green list.
Boris Johnson is set to confirm plans for a staged lifting of the ban on foreign holidays on Monday, with a further announcement in the following weeks explaining how the scheme will work.
He will set out the rough framework of the traffic light system.
The PM will say it is too early to set a date for when it will come into operation, but Whitehall sources said he will not completely rule out the possibility some travel could resume on May 17.
A Government source said: ‘It is still too early. At the moment, we have vaccinated half of the adult population but we still don’t know how strong our wall of defence is until we see more of the data.
‘We are not going to do anything that threatens the roadmap and will take a cautious approach until we better understand the impact of the vaccines.’
Only destinations with high vaccination rates, low prevalence of mutant variants with good capabilities for detecting them and low infection rates are likely to make it on to the green list.
By May 17, only a handful of countries – if any – are likely to be designated green.
The US, Maldives and Malta are among the contenders due to their higher vaccination rates. All three have rates of about 45 per 100 people. By comparison the UK’s vaccination rate is 53 per 100 people.
Other possible destinations are Gibraltar, Israel, the Seychelles and the United Arab Emirates.
Boris Johnson is set to confirm plans for a staged lifting of the ban on foreign holidays on Monday, with more information coming in the next few weeks
Some Caribbean destinations could also become contenders if their vaccination drives continue at pace.
But quarantine-free holidays to traditionally popular destinations such as Greece, Italy and Spain may be some way off amid the EU’s sluggish vaccine rollout.
The countries’ vaccination rates are all around 17 per 100 people. Most of the Continent is likely to be ‘amber’ until July or August.
It came as travel industry leaders warned failure to reopen for the summer would put more than a million jobs at risk and could stall the post-pandemic recovery.
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: ‘We have to start somewhere – for the sake of jobs, the billions our sector provides the Treasury and any realistic concept of a Global Britain future.’
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