Fines of up to £10,000 are to be issued to rogue PCR testing companies who break the law, the health secretary has confirmed.
Sajid Javid, who this weekend said he wants to remove the PCR test requirement when returning from some foreign countries “as soon as I possibly can”, has ordered the rules to come into effect from September 21.
He also confirmed 91 test providers have now been removed from the government’s list. There are now 426 providers offering day 2 and day 8 tests listed on the gov.uk site.
The government has also “corrected inaccurate prices of 135 private providers who will be removed from the list if they advertise misleading prices again”, Javid said.
His latest statement comes three weeks after the health secretary vowed to clampdown on ‘cowboy’ Covid test providers, at which point 82 private firms were identified as displaying misleading prices.
The Competition and Markets Authority has been investigating the issue and has opened a formal investigation into one of the largest private PCR test providers, Expert Medicals, and written to a further 19 companies.
Javid’s latest statement said: “It is completely unacceptable for any private testing company to take advantage of holidaymakers and we are taking action to clamp down on cowboy behaviour.
“I requested a review from the Competition and Markets Authority to address exploitative behaviour in the private testing market and ensure the government is doing everything it can to crack down on excessive pricing and inaccurate claims.
“Through our regular reviews and spot-checks, we have identified even more providers that were messing around with costs and have now removed 91 providers from Gov.uk and corrected inaccurate prices of 135 private providers who will be removed from the list if they advertise misleading prices again.
“From 21 September, in order to ensure travel test providers are performing to a high legalised standard, there will be tough new penalties for companies that fail to follow the law, including fixed fines of up to £10,000.
“I am reviewing the recommendations from the Competition and Markets Authority and will outline further changes shortly to ensure consumers are given the best tests at the very best prices.”