Returning to Wales from abroad? You can pick your own PCR test provider from 21 September to save money
Travellers returning to Wales from abroad will be able to use cheap PCR tests from providers on the UK Government's list of approved firms from 21 September. Currently, those going to Wales have no choice over the PCR test provider they can use and can only book via the Corporate Travel Management portal.
The change comes after the UK Government said it would do more to tackle ongoing issues with PCR testing. It announced earlier this month that from 21 September there will be tough new penalties for companies that fail to follow the law, including fixed fines of up to £10,000. This is in a bid to ensure travel test providers perform to a high standard.
Regulator the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had also called on the Government to do more to tackle issues surrounding private PCR-test providers. This followed a rapid review of the market conducted by the CMA amid mounting concerns over the price, reliability and quality of service provided by some firms.The watchdog published advice on how the Government could further improve the PCR market, which the Government says it is now considering.
Travellers to Wales will be allowed to use any PCR provider on the UK Government's website
Currently, those travelling to Wales from abroad are only allowed to use PCR tests booked through the Corporate Travel Management (CTM) portal. These tests are more expensive than can be found elsewhere at £68 each and £136 if you need both day two and day eight tests.
However, as of 21 September, travellers entering Wales from abroad will be allowed to use PCR tests from private providers listed on the UK Government's website. These are cheaper than the current ones they have had to use, starting from around £20 for a day two test, and from around £86 for day two and day eight tests. You can still use the current travel tests after 21 September though, if you wish.
Scotland had also followed the same policy as Wales until this month. Previously, those travelling to Scotland from overseas could only use PCR tests booked via CTM, but now they can use PCR tests from providers on the UK Government's list of approved firms.
Those travelling to England and Northern Ireland from overseas can also use a private provider on the UK Government's approved list.
What does the Welsh Government say?
The Welsh Government says the changes will ensure test results and genomic sequencing – which is used to identify any new variants – are processed and reported quickly and within a comparable time period.
Eluned Morgan, health minister for Wales said: "I welcome the progress that has been made in addressing the significant concerns we have raised with UK Government, especially with the introduction of new regulatory standards on 21 September. I also expect further improvements following the publication of the CMA report and acceptance of the recommendations to further improve outcomes."
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