Friday 17 September 2021 2:00 pm

Travel rules set for major overhaul with costly PCR tests to be axed

The UK’s travel restrictions are set for a major overhaul today, with a raft of changes expected to be announced later.

Grant Shapps took to Twitter to confirm that an update would follow later this afternoon.

“I’ll set out measures to simplify international travel later today in order to reduce costs, take advantage of higher levels of vaccination, and keep us all safe”, he wrote.

It has been widely reported that ministers will scrap the requirement for double vaccinated passengers to take pricey PCR tests when they return to the UK.

And the traffic light system could be simplified, with the “green” and “amber” lists simplified altogether.

In addition, both the Guardian and the Times reported that dozens of countries are set to be removed from the “red list”.

The changes will come after six months of criticism of the current system, which has been lambasted for its complexity and for the cost it adds to holidays.

It is hoped that the government will be able to complete its reforms in time for the October half term.

Such a move will be deeply popular with the airline industry, which has long argued for an easing of the current restrictions.

With the furlough scheme also set to end this month, the move could see airlines bring more staff back in order to cope with any pick-up in demand.

Earlier this week health secretary Sajid Javid all but confirmed the scrapping of PCR tests when laying out the UK’s winter Covid plan in Parliament.

In answer to a question from transport select committee chair Huw Merriman as to whether PCR tests could be replaced by lateral flow tests, he said:

“I don’t want to preempt the statement of my honourable friend the transport secretary but I believe when he does make that statement… [Merriman] will be pleased”.

Later this afternoon Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the government would set out steps to make testing “less onerous” soon.

“We will be saying a lot more shortly about the traffic light system, about simplifying it and about what we can do to make the burdens of testing less onerous for those who are coming back into the country,” he told a press conference.