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UK government aims to ease testing requirements for international travelers coming to England ahead of the schools mid-term break, which will boost the travel industry reeling from the spread of Covid-19, the secretary said to transport.
The rules will be updated before schools have a mid-term vacation week starting October 26, with an announcement expected in the coming days. The government had said it would change the rules at the end of this month.
“The travel industry, which was the first to go through this crisis [and] the latter, in many ways, has suffered tremendously – that’s a lot of jobs at stake, ”Grant Shapps told Sky News on Friday.
“We are still asking for a test [but] we’re going to go from a PCR test, the expensive ones you have to send to a lab, to a lateral flow test, ”he added.
Concerns have been expressed that the removal of PCR tests, which allow genomic sequencing, could make it more difficult to track the spread of variant strains of Covid-19.
However, Shapps said the rules were supplemented with additional requirements.
“Which is reassuring, if you come back from somewhere, you do a lateral flow, you get a positive result, then you can get a free NHS PCR test in the normal way,” he said.
The transport secretary also welcomed the easing of restrictions on travel from the UK to the US, while the US has yet to reopen to UK visitors.
“The big one we’re expecting in November. . . the US has said it will reopen to UK visitors, ”Shapps said. However, he was unable to provide an exact date for the rule change.