Holidaymakers travelling home from low-risk “green” countries should be spared coronavirus tests, a poll reveals today.
A survey of 2,000 people by low-cost airline easyJet showed 56% said a summer break abroad was what they were most looking forward to when lockdown curbs relax.
International travel for non-essential reasons is banned until May 17 at the earliest, and the Government is yet to say which countries will be placed into red, amber and green categories under its “traffic light” system for reopening the industry.
But under the plans, passengers planning trips to green nations will have to take a lateral flow test before travelling back to the UK and another, more expensive, polymerase chain reaction test within two days of returning to Britain.
But 61% of those quizzed by the budget carrier thought travel from green countries should be restriction-free.
Families face forking out of hundreds of pounds to undergo the tests.
Some 55% of 2,000 people questioned claimed they would be unable to go on holiday this summer if expensive PCR tests, currently costing up to £150, are imposed on passengers from lower-risk green countries.
easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “We are not pushing for the reopening of travel at any cost – we need to protect the NHS and vaccination programme.
“But we have worked with expert scientists to understand what would be needed to safely restart travel.
“Passenger health and safety remains our absolute priority and strongly believe that with vaccination, travel to a low-risk, government-approved destinations should not be placed prohibitively out of place by unnecessary, costly PCR testing.
“The public recognise that green tier travelling should mean safe travel without exorbitant costs.
“We urge the Government to make good on its promise to bring the cost of testing down and make travelling to safe green-light destinations affordable and possible for all.”
Some 58% said they were more likely to holiday overseas in low-risk green countries this summer if the Government introduced cheaper lateral flow tests in place of expensive PCR versions.
If the more accurate PCR tests remain in place, the most people would be prepared to pay was £50, while the majority of people thought they should be priced £30.
Mr Lundgren added: “The UK government need to come out as early as possible with final details of the testing regime and let the public know the tiers countries will be put into and the criteria it will use to decide those tiers.
“We believe that most European countries should be in the green tier based on the protection the NHS provided Brits through our vaccination rollout and the low presence of variants of concern in most European countries.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps admitted earlier this month that private PCR tests were “too expensive” and costs should be “driven down” to around half what they are now.
He vowed to strip from the Government’s list of approved testing providers “profiteering” firms he believed were charging too much.
He also suggested pre-departure tests could be replaced with cheaper, instant “lateral flow” tests.
But a similar move for post-arrival tests, which are crucial to monitor any new variants coming into the UK, is not thought likely.