The Scottish government is to allow people returning from green or amber countries to use private Covid-19 tests, which should help to cut the cost of expensive PCR tests.
In a change of policy, travellers will be able to choose from a list of approved providers when booking the required tests after arriving in Scotland. Previously Scottish travellers had to book expensive NHS home PCR tests via the UK government’s booking portal.
The move will come into effect in “early” September and the Scottish government said it had been made possible by “enhanced monitoring of the performance and reliability of private testing providers to ensure public health safeguards are maintained”.
Humza Yousaf, the Scottish government’s cabinet secretary for health and social care, said: “The step provides more choice and flexibility for travellers and will provide a boost for the tourism and aviation sector.
“We have had regular engagement with the UK government to understand the measures being taken to ensure test results will be communicated rapidly and reliably to both individuals and to contact tracing services.
“We have also been reassured that any positive results will be genomically sequenced to quickly identify any variants of concern.”
Jacqueline Dobson, president of Barrhead Travel, called the move “excellent news for the Scottish travel industry.
“For the last few months, Scottish travellers have been disproportionately affected by higher costs and this move will go some way to helping our recovery as travel continues to reopen,” she added.
“The testing challenges do not end here. We need intervention at a UK government level to really drive prices down to a reasonable cost.
“Our counterparts in Europe have already recognised the need for affordable and accessible testing and the UK must follow suit in order to keep up with global travel recovery.
“The third and final checkpoint, due 1 October, must address these issues, as well as providing a robust roadmap on exactly how international travel can move forward from the remaining restrictions that are hampering our recovery.”