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BREAKING: PCR tests scrapped from 24th October for those returning to England

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Grant Shapps announced on Twitter this evening – because that’s where you make important Government announcements – that PCR tests will be scrapped for people returning to England from 24th October.

This will only apply to people who are ‘fully vaccinated’ against coronavirus under the Government definition, covering speficic vaccines and specific countries of vaccination.

The exact wording of the tweet is:

Mandatory PCR tests will be gone in time for October half-term! for vaccinated adults and families seeking some winter sun abroad. From 24 Oct take a cheaper lateral flow test on return, to make travelling easier and simpler for everyone”

PCR tests for your return to the UK to be scrapped from 24th October

The tweet doesn’t answer any key questions:

  • what sort of lateral flow tests will be accepted?
  • will they still need to be pre-ordered before you fly in order for a reference code to be added to your Passenger Locator Form?
  • what happens with children?
  • will they need to be taken in the presence of a medical professional?
  • if not, how will results be submitted?

…. but I’m sure more details will emerge on Friday.

The key thing for now is that you shouldn’t pre-order an expensive PCR ‘Day 2’ test if you are going away for half term, because it won’t be needed.

Comments (72)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Simon says:

    What’s the best value day2 test. Randox? I arrive in London on 23rd October, just before the change.

  • Andrew says:

    Why take a photo of the test – no one currently asks for your PCR result. Will there be a new final stage of the PLF where you upload the photo?

    • Barry cutters says:

      I’ve ‘used’ the same pace booking reference 5 times now.
      And the test is still
      Sitting in the box , I take it with me every time I travel in case they question it

    • YC says:

      I think they mean it needs to be a qured/chronomics type of test

    • Let's fly says:

      The lab upload your result currently so they’ll need to track the data I guess.

      Simplytestme.co.uk (who I used once for a return to UK Lateral flow) seems to be saying it’ll cost just £9… so we can wait and see if that holds true!

  • Sammyj says:

    A picture won’t make the slightest bit of difference to that.

  • Andrew says:

    Just in time for half term, except for those of us in Scotland who’s half term is the week before. I imagine Nicola will prevaricate on this for a week and then quietly acquiesce like last time. Just enough to attempt to maintain the moral high ground whilst not actually doing anything meaningful.

    We’re in the med just now and get back on 23rd so randox pcrs for us

    • Andrew says:

      That’s not true. Scotland doesn’t have a “half term” in October, it has a “tattie howking week” in October.

      Even then, the Scottish contingent are down visiting me this week, and back to school on the 18th.

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    Has anyone encountered and found a solution to my situation?

    Travelling to Turkey for half term and my eldest daughter (13) has recently had Covid. She is likely to therefore to present as positive for her pre-departure PCR test (NHS recommends not to test for 90 days for this reason). The alternative of providing proof of natural immunity with a positive Covid result within the last 180 days would suffice but the NHS won’t provide a letter to anyone under the age of 16. It looks like a trip abroad for half term is therefore scuppered as she falls between two stools.

    With thousands of kids off school and half term approaching I’m wondering if anyone has found a solution?

    • Sean says:

      You don’t need a pre departure test any more. Just a day two test after arrival.

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        Lots of countries require a negative test, proof of vaccination or natural immunity for anyone aged 12 and above for admittance.

    • Tracey says:

      Chances of a positive PCR are small, though possible.

    • Anonymous says:

      Postal PCR from Randox or similar. Maybe you get mixed up and do two tests yourself and forget to do hers. Stupid solution to a flawed system.

    • Speedbird676 says:

      I flew six weeks after having Covid and tested negative on all three tests required for travel.

      The majority of people test negative very soon after the mandatory isolation period but there are edge cases that test positive for much longer.

      How long since she had Covid?

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        It will have been about 18-20 days depending upon when the test is taken.

    • Xavier says:

      I recently had a similar challenge with my nephew when we went to Poland. He is 14 and had Covid a few months ago. We managed to get a print out from his GP that confirmed a positive diagnosis, together with the original email from his NHS test confirming he had it. The Polish accepted this (there were 4 fully vaccinated adults in the party too). Not ideal but we made it work.

  • ChrisC says:

    Coming soon to HfP 27 posts a day asking where to get the cheapest lateral flow test from.

    Will make a change from the 27 posts a day asking about PCR tests I suppose.

    • Andrew says:

      That’s only for repatriation though.

      There’ll still be plenty of countries who require you to have a PCR before you board.

  • ChrisW says:

    Just use whatever test reference number on the PLF you used last time. No need to purchase a new test because noone checks or cares. I haven’t paid for a new test since June.

    • Tracey says:

      Risking a £1000 fine if they ever decide to look into this.

      • stevenhp1987 says:

        There are legitimate reasons this could occur though.

        The test could be delayed etc. causing you to use it for your next trip rather than seek a refund.

        • VINZ says:

          Exactly, because none of those money-making testing companies will offer a full refund anyway… Not worth it.

      • Dominic says:

        Suspect they may be pre-occupied chasing those that played the furlough scheme to worry about chasing people who may or may not have properly completed a pcr.

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    Once the dust has settled and the Government needs to find cash this seems like an easy win. Just pay someone to scrub the data and hey presto, £1,000 for every duplicate found.

    • APPL says:

      I think they can only keep the data from PLF for 42 days.

    • Aliks says:

      This isnt a case of shady characters exploiting loopholes, while the rest of us are good citizens and follow the rules.

      The Day2 Day8 fiasco was a complete waste of time and money after the first few months. UK COVID rates were higher than other countries, so the risk of exporting COVID was higher than importing something back to the UK. Everyone had to get a negative test before getting onto the home bound plane, so the extra testing was only looking for people catching COVID on the plane, or in the melee at UK immigration.

      There was little or no quality control over the testing companies. Only summary results were reported to Track and Trace. Almost no positive samples were retested and sequenced. Track and Trace phone calls were utterly pointless. And to cap it all the cost of the tests in the UK was far higher than comparable tests in Europe.

      I can only assume the regime persisted so long because of bureaucratic inertia, and the commitments made to the pharmas and testing companies.

      • Lady London says:

        As per Aliks I can only assume this testing regime has been continued substituting a relatively inaccurate and useless test (as no gene sequencing for lateral flow) to keep ripping off the British public and anyone unfortunate enough to have to visit here, by prolonging the lining of the government’s and MP’s friends pockets.

        You couldn’t make it up. Why switch from a useful test to one that fails so much to detect actual Covid?

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