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Travellers can use lateral flow tests instead of PCRs from today

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Fully vaccinated holidaymakers can take cheaper lateral flow tests instead of PCRs when returning to England from today.

The relaxing of the travel rules comes at the start of the half-term holidays.

Anyone who has been double jabbed and most under-18s arriving from a non red-list country can use a lateral flow test on or before day two of their arrival.

However, the lateral flow test must be purchased from a government-approved private provider, with prices starting from £22. Passengers must not use free NHS lateral flow tests.

The Department of Health said passengers must send a photo of their lateral flow test to the private provider. Failure to do so could result in a fine of £1,000.

Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a free PCR test, available via the NHS.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I’m delighted that from today eligible travellers to England, who’ve had the life-saving Covid-19 vaccine can benefit from a cheaper lateral flow test, providing faster results.

“This huge boost to the travel industry and the public will make it easier and cheaper for people to book holidays and travel abroad, and it is it is because of our incredible vaccine programme that this is possible. Anyone who tests positive must take a PCR test, which, if positive, may be genomically sequenced to check for variants and further help us fight this virus.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said: “The change in rules for post-arrival tests will give passengers more options and faster results, just in time for many half-term holidays.

“It’s thanks to the success of our vaccination programme that we can make this switch – giving the industry and consumers a much-needed boost.”

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: “Testing and self-isolating if you are positive remain crucial steps to managing the pandemic and stopping the spread of Covid-19 in the community.

“It is also critical that those who have positive Lateral Flow Tests when returning to England go on to get this checked through a NHS Test & Trace PCR. This way we can continue to monitor new variants and stay on top of the virus.”

All travellers must still complete their passenger locator form prior to travel, including providing a test booking reference number supplied by a testing provider.

Passengers arriving back in England who are not fully vaccinated must still take a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 and complete 10 days self-isolation with the option of doing Test to Release on day 5.

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