The COVID-19 testing policy for air travel has been updated to allow for fully vaccinated passengers and most under-18s to utilise lateral flow tests on or before day 2 of arriving in England. The policy change took effect from October 24 and is an effort to make testing easier and more affordable to passengers. The tests must be purchased from a private provider, NHS Test and Trace lateral flow devices cannot be used for international travel.
Lateral flow tests must be taken as soon as possible on the day of arrival in England or at the latest before the end of a passenger’s second day. A photo of the lateral flow test result, and the booking reference supplied by the private provider must be sent back to verify the result. Lateral flow tests are priced around £22 per test, according to Gov.uk.
A failure of sending the test result photo by a passenger arriving in England could result in a fine of £1,000. Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller, which can be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said that it is “critical that those who have positive lateral flow tests when returning to England go on to get this checked through an NHS Test and Trace PCR. This way we can continue to monitor new variants and stay on top of the virus”.