Sajid Javid has said he wants to ditch PCR tests for double vaccinated travellers entering the UK “as soon as I possibly can”.
The health secretary said today that the UK shouldn’t keep those restrictions in place for “longer than is absolutely necessary”.
Everyone who enters the UK has to show proof of a negative lateral flow or PCR test on arrival and has to book at least one PCR test here.
People travelling from amber list countries that are fully vaccinated only have to do one PCR test two days after arrival, but those who are unvaccinated have to do an additional test after eight days.
Only one PCR test on day two is required for those arriving from green list countries.
The tests are bought through private providers, with prices varying from around £50 to some instances of more than £200.
Javid said the burden had been particularly felt by families that have gone on holiday abroad.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “We still want to remain very cautious and there are some things, when it comes to travel for example, there are some rules that are going to have to remain in place. The PCR test that is required when you return from certain countries – look I want to try and get rid of that as soon as I possibly can.
“I’m not going to make that decision now, but I’ve told officials, ‘the moment we can, let’s try to get rid of these kinds of intrusions’.
“The cost that it generates for families particularly, families trying to go on holiday, we shouldn’t keep that cost for longer than is absolutely necessary.”
The health secretary also confirmed that Boris Johnson will next week outline the government’s plan for how to control Covid-19 throughout autumn and winter.
Hospitalisations from the virus are steadily climbing and are at there highest point since March.
Javid said he does not “anticipate” that there will be further lockdowns this year, but that he could not take all measures off the table.
“Our first line of defence remains the vaccine programme, it’s been enormously successful and we’ve now got over 80 per cent of people over the age of 16 vaccinated and over 90 percent with one jab,” he told the BBC.
“That remains vital – we still want people to come forward.”
He added: ‘The NHS is under significant pressure, there’s no doubt about that, we still have over 6,000 patients in England with symptoms of Covid.
“There’s a lot of pressure there and we’ve got to do everything we can to support the NHS. There are measures I hope we can take – for one boosters for example to deal with some of the issues around waning immunity, I think that’s all going to add to our defences.”