Parents won't have to pay for holiday Covid test for children under 11

Parents will NOT have to pay for Covid tests for children under 11 as part of new ‘traffic light’ system for foreign holidays from May 17

  • Under 11s won’t have to take Covid-19 tests before flying out and returning home 
  • Travel industry figures say families would be reluctant to book with big test costs
  • Transport Secretary Grant Shapps would ensure PCR test makers cut their prices

Affordable foreign holidays moved a step closer last night after Government sources said parents would not have to pay for Covid tests for children under 11 as part of the ‘traffic light’ system being introduced on May 17.

Under the plans, Britons will be allowed to fly to ‘green’ countries with low Covid rates and strong vaccine rollouts – as long as they take tests before flying out and returning home.

Senior figures in the travel industry had warned that families would be reluctant to book if they were forced to find an extra £600 to pay for the tests on top of the cost of the holiday.

Government sources said parents would not have to pay for Covid tests for children under 11 as part of the ‘traffic light’ system being introduced on May 17

But last night, Government sources said that only children aged 11 and older would have to take the tests. 

They added that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps would ensure the ‘profiteering’ makers of the most reliable PCR tests cut their prices, and that the system was likely to allow families to take cheaper, quicker ‘lateral flow’ tests with them when they travelled abroad to easily obtain results before they flew home.

On Friday, Mr Shapps gave holidaymakers the green light to book foreign trips.

He said: ‘This is the first time I’m able to come on and say I’m not advising against booking foreign holidays.’ 

He added that people would realistically be able to start booking in ‘two or three weeks’.

Ministers will reveal in early May which countries will be labelled under the new system as green, amber or red, each with different levels of restrictions.

People arriving from green countries will need to take a PCR test within 72 hours before departing for the UK and a second within two days of arrival. They will not need to quarantine. 

Airline bosses including easyJet’s Johan Lundgren have warned the current testing requirements could make travel prohibitively expensive, with Covid tests costing more than the flight itself in some cases

Anyone arriving from an amber country will also need to take a pre-departure test, with further PCR tests on day two and day eight, and be required to quarantine at home for ten days – although there will be an option to buy an extra PCR test on day five under the ‘test to release’ scheme to allow travellers to end their self-isolation early.

People arriving from the highest-risk red-list countries will be forced to quarantine in a specific hotel at a cost of £1,750. Travel to and from the countries will remain banned for most people, with only British and Irish residents allowed to enter the UK from red-list nations.

Mr Shapps said: ‘I think there is light at the end of the tunnel and we’ll be able to restart international travel […] in a safe and secure way, knowing about the vaccinations, everything we know about the disease this year, and of course that abundance of caution – having the tests in place.’

At present people are banned from travelling outside the UK for non-essential reasons. Last week, The Mail on Sunday revealed that officials were working on finding a way of providing cheaper tests for holidaymakers

At present people are banned from travelling outside the UK for non-essential reasons.

Last week, The Mail on Sunday revealed that officials were working on finding a way of providing cheaper tests for holidaymakers.

Airline bosses including easyJet’s Johan Lundgren have warned the current testing requirements could make travel prohibitively expensive, with Covid tests costing more than the flight itself in some cases.

Boris Johnson has confirmed he wants to lower the bill families would need to pay for testing, saying: ‘I do think we want to make things as easy as we possibly can.’ 

The Prime Minister added: ‘The boss of easyJet is right to focus on this issue. We’re going to see what we can do to make things as flexible and as affordable as possible.’

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