The government is considering a “bring a bottle” approach to traveller testing, the transport secretary has said.
Grant Shapps confirmed he was considering whether air travellers could take a lateral flow test at home before departure; “a sort of Covid version of bring your own bottle before you go on holiday”, he said, rather than the more expensive PCR test.
“We are looking at things like whether people can take their tests away,” he said, speaking on an Airlines UK/ConservativeHome webinar.
The switch would address criticism from within the industry about the cost of testing. Shapps acknowledged concerns, but said: “For the time being, the PCR test gets us somewhat closer to the truth.”
Shapps said a provider was undergoing accreditation to offer a £45 PCR test and said the list of approved providers would be made clearer.
“Some of the higher prices are for the full service where people come to your home. I am going to sort this out.”
Shapps also confirmed plans for a watchlist in order to avoid the short notice closure of destinations.
“We’re going to have a Green watchlist to try to give people more of an indication if there are concerns which might lead to quarantine later.
“We don’t currently have an Amber watchlist category because people are already required to quarantine.”
He indicated the government’s keenness to open a travel corridor with the US but said an enactment by president Trump in March 2020 needed to be repealed.
“That is the thing that needs to lift. We are having those conversations.”
He also confirmed vaccination certificates “will of, course, be part of international travel” and said NHSX, an NHS and Department of Health and Social Care digital developer, was “working exactly on that”.
Shapps also said travel would depend on other countries’ vaccination success but warned there was often difficulties in assessing this.
“One of the things that really challenges us is many countries do not have an Office for National Statistics or scientists of the outstanding type globally. There is not that critical mass of data and genome sequencing. Last year, frankly, we found out we were not given entirely truthful data.”