Scrapping PCR tests by half-term holidays in the balance

The scrapping of PCR testing in time for the October half-term holidays is up in the air.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said testing firms have a big shortage of  lateral flow tests and it could take weeks to scale up to the required stock.

He told the Transport Select Committee there is a big push to ensure PCR tests can be scrapped and replaced by lateral flow tests by the half-term holidays but there is no guarantee.

“The ramp-up of supply of lateral flow tests through the private testing sector has some way to go as they have been almost entirely involved in providing PCR tests currently,” he told MPs.

“They are providing a low number of thousands of tests] to (needing) probably millions of tests very quickly and need a few weeks to scale up on it.”

The government announced that Day 2 PCR tests will no longer be mandatory for fully vaccinated travellers returning to England.

That will happen in October but the government won’t commit to a date due to the apparent short supply of replacement lateral flow tests.

“Test providers have struggled to cope with demand for PCR tests for months, so if they cannot meet the demand for lateral flow tests, there is a real risk that the system will once again fail travellers,” said Rory Boland, travel editor at Which?

Department for Business Under-Secretary Paul Scully said there is a strong push to get sufficient stocks in time for half-term.

“We’ve got to get the systems in place because we want to move to lateral flow tests to make it easier and cheaper for people to be able to enjoy those holidays at half-term,” he told Sky News.

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