A national shortage of rapid Covid-19 tests is delaying the UK government’s plan to ease entry restrictions, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
Earlier this month, the government announced major changes to its strict entry policy.
Thus far, all inbound travelers must present a negative PCR COVID test before boarding and purchase two more for day 2 and 8 of their arrival regardless of their vaccination status.
However, the country announced that starting Oct. 4 fully vaccinated travelers would be permitted to bypass the pre-departure test and the test on day 8. They would also be allowed to take lateral flow Covid-19 tests instead of the expensive PCR ones.
The plan was on track until yesterday when the Transport Secretary announced that there are not enough tests.
Shapps said it would take several weeks for the private sector to ramp-up supply of lateral flow tests. It’s “a question of scale,” he said.
“We go from a situation where [the suppliers] are providing a low number of thousands [of tests], to probably millions of tests very quickly and need a few weeks to scale up on it,” he replied when questioned by MP Ben Bradshaw about why this was an issue.
This is an unfortunate scenario for the Britons who rushed up to book their flights for the first weeks of October following the government’s announcement.
Now, travelers will most likely need to add a couple of hundred pounds more to their holiday budgets.
However, the Transport Secretary stated that he was aware of school half-term dates and recognized the urgency with which this adjustment needed to be implemented, which may mean they are working on a quick solution to this issue.
For now, the Britons can enjoy the rest of the changes on international rules that will streamline travel with or without rapid tests.The current traffic light system that categorizes countries into red, amber, amber plus or green will be replaced with less complicated criteria based on individuals rather than on entire territories.