Sheffield MP Louise Hague slams ‘scandalous’ cost of PCR testing for travelers under new Covid rules
Following the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid in the UK, it has become mandatory for fully vaccinated travelers entering the UK to undergo a PCR test to prove they do not have Covid.
However, tests that you can get from a pharmacy or general practitioner are not accepted. The government has made it so that tests performed to enable a person to travel must be booked and paid for using a list of suppliers on the government website. The links on this site then direct you to the pages of private companies.
Previously, a lateral flow test would have been sufficient, which typically cost around Â£ 20 from suppliers. This is no longer the case, and a PCR test required to enter the UK costs over Â£ 35.
Here are the new Omicron travel rules that have come into effect
Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh, Labor shadow secretary, criticized the process, calling the prices charged for mandatory testing “outrageous”.
She said: âMany returning home for their first Christmas since the start of the pandemic will be hit by outrageous testing costs.
âUnscrupulous private providers are pocketing millions and forcing many families to shell out huge sums.
âMinisters are sitting on their hands as the people who want to do the right thing pay the price for this broken market.
“The government must act ahead of the Christmas travel season, implement the regulator’s recommendation, and urgently consider instituting a price cap to combat sky-high prices.”
Some vendors listed on the gov.uk website charge up to Â£ 399 for a PCR test, which adds a huge additional cost to the trip.
And since Tuesday, December 7, it has also become mandatory for travelers to take a lateral flow test or PCR two days before leaving the UK, which adds additional costs.
A review by the Competition and Markets Authority in September found that the Â£ 490million industry was setting “extremely high margins” which “could not be explained by costs”. They said unexplained high prices “indicate consumers are getting a bad deal.”
The regulator also warned that there was no control over whether those associated with the providers had been criminally convicted or had previously been subject to enforcement action.
Ms Haigh also took to Twitter to highlight the “bait scams” that test providers use to try to trick people into buying their tests.
The shadow secretary of transportation has shared information showing how companies offering PCR testing on the government website are ‘baiting’ people by claiming to offer them as cheap as 30 pence to get to the top of the list – which is presented in order decreasing in price with the cheapest the highest at the top.
However, when you clicked on those links, the cheapest full price available was Â£ 59.
Ms Haigh added: ‘Months ago ministers were told to ban this bait price scam, but they just stood idly by.
“It’s the families and passengers who just want to do the right thing that are paying the price in this broken market.”
The Department of Transportation has been approached by The Star for comment.