Tui will offer coronavirus testing for a fraction of the standard prices to ‘enable travel’ once the restrictions are lifted on May 17.
The UK’s largest holiday company said the cheapest package – consisting of a lateral flow test and PCR test – will be available for just £ 20.
The tests will be prerequisites for people returning to or visiting England from green-listed destinations under the government’s traffic light system for international travel from 17 May.
Passengers from Green List countries – expected to include Malta, Jamaica and Portugal – must undergo a lateral flow or PCR test within 72 hours before flying to the UK. They should also get a PCR test once they land.
The government plans to provide quick Covid test kits free of charge to those traveling abroad so they can avoid the hassle of finding one before returning, Whitehall sources claimed.
But arrivals would still have to pay at least £ 50 each for the gold standard PCR test upon landing.
The TUI package covers both tests.
The UK’s largest holiday company offers coronavirus testing at a fraction of the standard prices to ‘make travel possible’ once travel restrictions are lifted. Pictured: a test center for airports in Brussels
Tui said the cheapest package – consisting of a lateral flow test and PCR test – will be available for just £ 20
Boris Johnson has confirmed that there will be ‘some openings’ of international travel from May 17. A formal announcement will be made tomorrow
A £ 50 package from TUI includes an additional PCR test – which is needed for those traveling from an orange-listed country.
PCR tests alone typically cost £ 120 each, although several tour companies offer them for £ 60.
The ban on foreign holidays is expected to be lifted for people in England from May 17 as part of the next relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions.
At that point, a risk-based traffic light system will be put in place, with different rules for returning travelers depending on which list their destination is on.
People coming from a green location don’t have a quarantine, while those returning from anywhere on the amber list should isolate themselves for at least five days.
The red list requires a 10-night stay in a quarantine hotel for £ 1,750 for solo travelers.
There were fears that the testing requirements would make summer vacation too expensive for many people, adding hundreds of pounds to the total cost of a trip.
The green, amber and red lists, based on an assessment of the risks of coronavirus, are expected to be published by the Department of Transportation tomorrow.
The UK’s devolved administrations have not set any dates.
Tui has partnered with Norwich-based testing company Chronomics to offer the packages.
Andrew Flintham, Tui General Manager for the UK and Ireland, said: “We have always believed that cost-effective testing solutions, as well as maximum flexibility, will enable travel this summer and beyond.
PCR AND LATERAL FLOW TESTS: THE MAIN DIFFERENCES
The UK is in favor of rapid tests that are not on a lab basis and give a result within 15 minutes.
These rapid coronavirus tests – also called lateral flow tests – are tests that can be performed on site with portable equipment.
They are faster and cheaper than lab-based PCR tests – which the government uses to diagnose people – but are less accurate.
Lateral flow tests work by detecting the proteins of the virus – not the RNA – through a nasal swab.
They are not suitable for detecting Covid in people who exhibit symptoms such as fever or persistent cough.
PCR tests – which detect the virus’ RNA – should be chosen by those showing symptoms.
They cost at least £ 180 and the cotton swab – usually from the nose and throat – is processed in the lab.
“Our research has shown that customers are looking forward to their much-needed vacation abroad, but affordable and convenient testing solutions were necessary to make this happen.
“The four new exclusive test packages have been developed with our customers in mind; they are offered at heavily discounted prices, include certification to travel and will be a straightforward process from start to finish. ‘
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said, “Tui is launching an affordable vacation test package to green-listed countries is great news – but only for Tui customers.
Other larger vacation companies that can afford to subsidize testing costs can follow suit, but medium and small travel companies may struggle to compete and vacationers may have less choice as a result.
“People shouldn’t shop around for mandatory tests if they want to travel, or get their hand forced with whom to book based on the limited supply of low-cost tests.
“The government should work to lower the cost of testing across the board, rather than trusting consumers to a system that is currently fragmented and flawed.”
The May 17 holiday ‘green list’ of quarantine-free destinations will be revealed tomorrow.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to unveil the highly anticipated traffic light system after the original roster is signed off by ministers.
But it is clear that there will be only a “very small” number of countries that will be subject to the loosest of rules when the blanket ban on non-essential travel elevators is in place. Possible early candidates include Gibraltar, Malta and Portugal.
Hopes are now pinned to a much wider ‘big bang’ reopening of popular spots next month – by then more people will be vaccinated and an international system of certificates should be up and running.
Earlier this week, a shift in government travel advice gave a clear idea of which destinations might be on the green list.
Tourists visiting a number of popular summer hotspots are not at an ‘unacceptably high’ risk of the coronavirus, according to the latest updates from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
The FCDO does not recommend non-essential travel to Portugal (with the exception of the Azores), the Canary Islands of Spain or the Greek islands of Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthos, Corfu and Crete.
There is no guarantee that the green list matches the FCDO’s travel advice, but the latter reflects the government’s current assessment of the risks to tourists
Assessments will be based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a country’s population that has been vaccinated, the number of infections, emerging new variants and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.
The tests are requirements for people returning to or visiting England from green-listed destinations under the government’s traffic light system for international travel. Pictured: An airport test center at Franz-Josef-Strauss Airport in Munich
Whitehall sources have revealed that Covid rapid tests will be made available for free to people traveling abroad, in an effort to reduce the hassle and cost of getting a pre-return test abroad.
However, in a decision that will discourage the travel industry, people returning from abroad will still have to pay for a gold standard PCR test when they get home, at a cost of at least £ 50 each.
Concerns persist that the cost of testing could be prohibitive for many who want to get a summer vacation abroad.
Malta is one of the countries tipped to create the first ‘green list’ of quarantine-free destinations from 17 May
The prime minister said last month that he was determined to “make things as flexible and affordable as possible,” adding, “I really want international travel to get going again.”
Heads of health have stood firm on the requirement for all travelers to undergo a PCR test after returning home, as this is the only test that can detect so-called variants of concern that could undermine the vaccine program.
However, they have given in to the issue of pre-flight testing. Currently, all travelers must have an escorted test no more than three days before flying home.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to unveil the highly anticipated travel traffic light system tomorrow
Under the new plans, to be unveiled on Friday, they will be offered a quick lateral flow test to put in their suitcase.
A source said health officials were now convinced that these self-administered tests, of the type used in schools, would be sufficient.
The travel industry has raised concerns about the cost of testing.
One £ 65 PCR test alone would increase the cost of the average £ 144 one-way ticket by 45 percent, it warned.
The European Union has said it will open its borders to non-EU countries with successful vaccination programs and low infection rates, such as the UK.
It aims to lift the EU-wide ban on British holidaymakers and accept vaccinated British from June.
People with a negative test could also take the block for leisure travel.