LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it was cutting the cost of COVID-19 tests for travel from the National Health Service (NHS) and was reviewing the list of private providers to ensure pricing is transparent, warning it would clamp down on misleading pricing.
Testing is free for people with symptoms of COVID-19 but all tests used for travel have to be purchased.
The travel industry, which has been hammered by the pandemic, has long complained that the costs of tests are too high.
The United Kingdom operates a “traffic light” system for international travel, with low-risk countries rated green for quarantine-free travel, medium risk countries rated amber, and red countries requiring arrivals to spend 10 days in isolation in a hotel.
People arriving from green and amber-list destinations must take at least one such test to avoid fines of up to 2,000 pounds ($2,773).
The Department of Health and Social Care said the cost of NHS travel tests will be reduced from 88 pounds to 68 pounds for arrivals from green list countries or fully vaccinated arrivals from amber list countries and from 170 pounds to 136 pounds for two tests for arrivals from amber countries who are not fully vaccinated.
“I know how much people have looked forward to their summer holidays and that the cost of PCR testing can be a barrier to that. That is why I am determined to protect consumers and hardworking families from exploitative practices and ensure high quality tests are available at a reasonable price,” said health minister Sajid Javid.
He has also ordered a rapid review of the pricing and service standards of all test providers.
“Any provider found to be misleading the public will be kicked off (the list),” he said.
Last week Britain’s competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), began a review of the COVID-19 tests market following a request from Javid.
($1 = 0.7212 pounds)
(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Grant McCool)