Travel news latest: Government ‘had months to act’ over testing chaos, says travel watchdog

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The Government “had months to act” to avoid testing chaos this summer, a travel industry watchdog has said.

New images emerged this week showing test drop boxes overflowing with unsorted PCR tests, many from people travelling back from green or amber list countries.

Randox, which has processed more than 15 million tests since the beginning of the pandemic, recommends customers use its free drop boxes to return test samples. However, there are only 200 around the country, and many are already full.

Rory Boland of Which? Travel said: “Months ago our investigation found evidence the private testing system could not cope with large numbers of people travelling. 

“[The] Government can’t claim these problems were unforeseeable. We warned them – there was months to act. And here we are.”

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Randox drop boxes emptied “up to” four times a day

Randox, which partners with 19 major airlines or travel firms including BA, Easyjet, Ryanair, TUI and Jet2, said it was continuing to increase the number of drop boxes, which were emptied “up to” four times a day. Its tests cost between £48 and £96 for day two and/or day eight tests.

It said 99.9 per cent of all samples for international travel were reported to its customers within 24 hours of their receipt at the Randox laboratory, which is based in Northern Ireland.

On its website, it offered an alternative of using DX drop boxes with each kit requiring a return label, or paying for an alternative private courier although this (it told customers) was “at your own risk and any issues with these third parties must be dealt with directly with them”.

More information on the summer holiday testing fiasco, here.

Britain to relax COVID-19 travel restrictions for COP26

Hotel quarantine will be cut from ten to five days for the UN climate conference in Scotland later this year.

Believing face-to-face negotiations should be made in person, rather than virtually, Boris Johnson is working to loosen prohibitive travel rules ahead of the COP26.

“Specific arrangements” will be made for the summit.

“This includes a reduced quarantine period of five days for vaccinated individuals from red list countries,” the official said. “There will be no requirement for self-isolation on arrival to the UK for those coming from amber or green list countries whether vaccinated or not.”

What happened yesterday?

A re-cap of yesterday’s top stories.

  • Ditch the travel traffic light system, says former head of vaccine taskforce
  • Australia expands lockdown amid Delta variant fears
  • Russia resumes flights to Sharm el Sheikh six years after plane crash
  • Some Government-approved testers ‘cannot cope with demand’
  • Announcement on New Zealand border reopening to come this week
  • Brexit ushers in new age of roaming charges for British travellers
  • UK holidaymakers in France facing vaccine passport chaos

Now, on with today’s news.

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