Pre-departure test axe ‘biggest plus point’ in rules shake-up

The removal the need for pre-departure tests in resort is “the biggest plus point” of all overseas travel rule changes announced by the transport secretary last week, say leading trade figures.

Grant Shapps announced on Friday (September 17) that from 4am on October 4, pre-departure Covid-19 tests will no longer be required for fully-vaccinated travellers arriving into England from non-red list countries.

Amanda Matthews, owner and managing director of homeworking agency Designer Travel, told a Travel Weekly webcast: “The biggest obstacle for would-be travellers was the pre-departure test overseas and the fear of getting stuck in resort and not being able to get home.

“It’s the thing people have been most nervous about all summer – doing the test on holiday.”

She said the agency could help clients arrange pre-departure, day-two and day-five PCR tests but added: “[The clients] would then spend the last three days of their holiday, before doing the test to get home, feeling nervous about it.

“They didn’t want to test positive, have to stay overseas and be taken to a hotel.

“The fact now clients can go on holiday, having been double-jabbed, and not have to worry for one minute about having to do another test to come home, to me, that is the biggest plus point of all these changes.”

Also on the webcast was Gold Medal sales director Nick Hughes, who said scrapping the pre-departure tests will take away “a lot of that pain, a lot of that inconvenience”.

“Not all of the obstacles are gone but it’s a step in the right direction…and takes away a little bit of that uncertainty,” he commented.

Alan Cross, head of trade at Jet2holidays told the webcast that all the changes announced last week were a “compelling combination” but urged the devolved nations to align in their regulations.

“We’d like to see the Scottish, the Northern Irish, the Welsh and the English all get their act together and do the same thing,” he said.

“Otherwise, it gets very confusing and also makes a farce of last week’s changes, because if they really think that someone on the borders of Scotland is not going to nip down to Newcastle for a flight, they are kidding themselves.

“All through the pandemic, there have been conversations going on between Jet2holidays at a senior level with government bodies, in this country and abroad as well – but governments are playing games with each other and trying to get a degree of one upmanship.”

But Cross added: “We are very optimistic that by the end of October, that the four national governments will be aligned, maybe even for half-term.”

Picture by Viacheslav Lopatin/Shutterstock

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