Parents face £120 bill for Covid holiday tests for under-11s – despite exemption


Jet-setting families face a £120 bill to test their children for Covid – despite under-11s getting a special exemption in Britain’s summer holidays scheme.

It’s emerged under-11s will not have to take “pre-departure” tests before they return to the UK, under a new traffic light system for foreign travel.

But by contrast, only under-5s will be exempt from taking “post-arrival” tests after they arrive back in Britain.

It’s thought children aged 5 to 10 will still have to take the gold-standard post-arrival PCR tests, which cost around £120 for one or £190 for a set of two according to Which?.

That could leave families with huge bills, despite attempts to exempt primary school-aged kids and make travel more affordable this summer.

Brits returning from “green list” countries this summer will have to take one post-arrival PCR test, on day 2 after they return. And Brits returning from “amber list” countries will have to take two post-arrival tests, on day 2 and day 8, as well as quarantining at home.



Brits returning from "green list" countries will have to take one post-arrival PCR test, on day 2 after they return
Brits returning from “green list” countries will have to take one post-arrival PCR test, on day 2 after they return

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps last week admitted private PCR tests are “too expensive” in the UK and costs should be “driven down” to around half what they are now.

The top Tory has vowed to remove “profiteering” firms that charge too much from the government’s list of approved testing providers.

He has also suggested pre-departure tests could be replaced with cheaper instant “lateral flow” tests.

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But he has not suggested this will happen for post-arrival tests, which are crucial to monitor any new variants coming into the UK.

There are concerns that lateral flow tests miss a large number of positive cases that PCR tests, which are sent off to a lab, pick up.



Grant Shapps has said he wants to bring down the cost of tests - but there are no guarantees
Grant Shapps has said he wants to bring down the cost of tests – but there are no guarantees

Foreign holidays and cruises will resume from May 17 at the earliest under the government’s traffic light system.

The government will also set out “by early May” the actual date when international travel can resume and £5,000 fines are dropped. Ministers will also set out which countries are on which lists out of red, amber and green.

Mr Shapps – who was caught by his own travel corridor system last year – has said he will hold off on booking his own family break until that point.

The taskforce review warns: “People are of course free to book holidays abroad in the summer.

“But for the moment the government must advise that until the picture is clearer, there is a continuing risk of disappointment.”



Prof Peter Horby warned there is a "substantial risk" families will have to rip up any summer holiday plans
Prof Peter Horby warned there is a “substantial risk” families will have to rip up any summer holiday plans

Prof Peter Horby, chair of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), warned there is a “substantial risk” families will have to rip up any summer holiday plans.

He told Times Radio: “Personally I’ve not booked a holiday overseas.

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“Because I think, number one, there’s a risk that whatever I book won’t turn out to be feasible.

“Number two is I don’t want to get stuck overseas somewhere or have to quarantine for two weeks when I come back when the situation changes.

“The situation in the UK is becoming clear and is stabilising but people have to remember that’s not the case elsewhere.

“The pandemic is still raging globally. And many countries in Europe even are still seeing racing case numbers or having to reintroduce lockdowns.

“So it’s very hard to predict what will happen in the next couple of months and so people have to really take on board that any plans they make now, they are at substantial risk of having to change.”

Under the traffic light system, arrivals from green countries will not have to quarantine on return to the UK, unless they test positive or show symptoms. But they must take two tests: a pre-departure test before setting off back to the UK, then a second gold-standard PCR test on or before day 2 after they arrive home.

Arrivals from amber countries will need to quarantine for 10 days, but they can do this at their home. They must take three tests – pre-departure, and then PCR tests on day 2 and day 8 after they arrive home. They can choose to pay for a fourth test on day 5, and if it comes back negative they can leave quarantine early. This is called Test to Release.

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Arrivals from red countries must quarantine for 10 days in a hotel at £1,750 a head. They must also take three tests – the same as the amber group – and cannot pay for Test to Release.





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