Travel: Simon Calder discusses taking PCR tests
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Holidays may be back on under traffic light rules, however, the cost of mandatory testing for green and amber list countries is thought to have “priced out” as many as 22 million Britons according to research by online doctor ZAVA. While an investigation has been launched into the price of testing by the Competitions and Markets Authority, a conclusion has not yet been reached. In the meantime, however, Nicky Kelvin, head of the Points Guy UK, suggests there are some ways holidaymakers can keep costs down.
Currently, travellers returning to the UK from green list countries do not need to quarantine but must take a PCR test on or before day two.
The same rules apply to fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber list countries, meanwhile, non-vaccinated arrivals from amber list countries must quarantine for 10 days and take a further PCR test on day eight of their return.
All tests must be purchased from an approved provider as listed on the Government website.
The key to saving money starts with making sure holidaymakers understand these rules, and plan accordingly.
“I think the key thing now is to focus on the new amber rules,” explained Mr Kelvin.
“If you’re vaccinated the new rule is that you are pretty much following the green list rules.
“So now you need to do a test before departure, three days before you come back to the UK, which can either be an antigen, a lateral flow test or it can be PCR and then you just need to do a day two PCR test.”
According to Mr Kelvin, there are two main avenues which holidaymakers can pursue in order to try and cut costs.
“First of all, finding a good deal on a test to take away with you,” said Mr Kelvin.
Travellers are able to purchase pre-packaged tests which can be taken while abroad.
Airlines, including easyJet and British Airways, have already partnered with testing providers with special discounts for customers.
easyJet, for example, has partnered with Collinson to provide customers with a 20 percent discount on testing both to and from the UK.
easyJet also list Randox and Boots as named providers for testing.
Similarly, British Airways customers can enjoy discounted testing if they use Breathe Assured, Chronomics, CityDoc, Collinson, Eurofins, ExpressTest, Halo, LetsGetChecked, Medicspot, Qured, Randox and Wren Healthcare.
This is something Mr Kelvin has experience with and recommends other travellers should make use of.
“I’ve done this twice now,” he explained.
“ I used a company called Qured. They work in partnership with British Airways and a couple of other airlines.
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“They offer a test, it’s a little lateral flow pack that you order before you go on holiday, you take it away with you in your suitcase and then within the three days before coming home, you schedule in a call with them and on your phone you do it live on the call with them.
“They verify you’ve done it properly, you get your hopefully negative result and then you send a picture of the test alongside your passport [to them].
“They then send you a certificate and that’s what you need to fly back to the UK. That’s the proof you need.
“If you use British Airways they have a discount code, a few other places have a discount code.
“It’s £33 per test and that is inclusive of getting a certificate and getting everything you need.
“£33 is pretty reasonable and you have peace of mind that the test is with you on your person.”
This cuts out the need for trying to find tests while abroad, which Mr Kelvin points out can feel daunting when in an unknown town or city.
The travel expert also has tips for a smoother day two and day eight testing process.
“You have to put the booking reference on your Passenger Locator Form, so you need to plan ahead and get that booked in,” he advised.
“That can cause some problems because you have to find a good provider, you have to find somewhere that is going to be there for you, it’s going to be posted, it’s going to be back at home for you.
“But what a lot of people don’t realise is that you can take the day two test on days zero, one or two. So, you can actually take it as soon as you land, and some providers are now offering in-airport tests.
“This is something that is really interesting and makes the process a lot easier.”
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Mr Kelvin recommends Express Test, which currently has locations at Heathrow, Gatwick, Edinburgh, Birmingham airports.
“At the moment they charge £69 per test for a PCR,” he said.
“It’s not cheap but it is pretty reasonable.”
With all these elements considered, holidaymakers could bag a saving on their tests.
“As a combination, you spend £33 [on a pre-departure test] and £69 for that two test, that you can take on day zero at the airport, you can get everything out of the way quickly,” said Mr Kelvin.
“You’re paying just over £100 per person which while not cheap is then within the realms of what people might be able to afford.”
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