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Lata backs scrapping of traffic light travel system

The Latin American Travel Association (Lata) has criticised the “completely unregulated” PCR testing industry as it backed calls for dropping the traffic light scheme for international travel.

Health secretary Sajid Javid has vowed to clampdown on “cowboy” firms, and fines will be issued to rogue companies from September 21.

Javid also said he wants to remove the requirement for PCR tests for travellers “as soon as I possibly can”.

The government is due to review its international travel restrictions by October 1.

Lata chief executive Danny Callaghan said if Javid followed though on scrapping the tests it would be a “small step in the right direction”, and warned: “We must not lose sight of the bigger picture and the ongoing struggles in the industry.”

“Let’s not forget that this is really only an effort to scrap a scheme that has been a government shambles from day one,” said Callaghan.

“With testing completely unregulated it seems almost as though anyone could buy a kids’ chemistry set from Argos and set themselves up as a PCR testing company, listed on the government website, charging exorbitant fees and not actually delivering any meaningful tests. Or often not actually delivering the test kits at all.

He added: “The majority of travel remains hamstrung by the chaotic and unwarranted restrictions of the traffic light system and Foreign Office (FCDO) advice.

“How is it that we have ended up lagging so far behind the EU in terms of opening up travel, when our vaccine rollout was envied by them just a few months ago? The UK government has certainly excelled at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

“We need to drop the traffic light scheme and FCDO advisories and move to a situation where there is a presumption to allow travel unless there is a very clear, scientifically justifiable, and transparently communicated reason not to.

“The days of shady decisions, based on shaky data (Reunion Island still isn’t in France), taken for political reasons must stop here.”

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