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Mandatory PCR tests should be free, airlines urge

Mandatory PCR tests should be made available free of charge ahead of stricter travel restrictions being imposed from tomorrow due to the Omicron Covid variant.

The plea came from aviation body Airlines UK as countries around the world started to reimpose border closures after several southern African nations were placed on the UK’s red travel list and costly PCR tests are re-introduced for inbound travellers from Tuesday.

Airlines UK chef executive Tim Alderslade said: “We understand the cautious approach being taken to travel from southern Africa in light of concerns over the new variant.

“Airlines are working with governments and are in touch with affected customers.

“The situation is developing rapidly, and hopefully as more data emerges emergency border restrictions can be reversed quickly – and applied only where they will make a material difference.

“In the meantime, we urge ministers to make mandatory PCR tests free of charge for impacted passengers, many of whom are now in the invidious position of having less than 48 hours to arrange extra testing whilst overseas.

“Many will struggle to do so which is why support from government – at no excessive cost to the Exchequer – would be an appropriate gesture.”

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