Boris Johnson hasn’t ‘given up on May 17’ – holidays could restart with cheap tests

Boris Johnson discusses vaccine passports for overseas travel

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out May 17 as the earliest date international travel could resume. Yet, when speaking during an address to the nation on Monday, Mr Johnson showed some caution.

Since then, however, the PM has said he has “not given up” on his initial roadmap plans.

“We have to be realistic… we can’t do it immediately,” he told reporters at a press conference.

“A lot of the destinations that we want to go to at the moment are suffering a new wave of the illness, of COVID, as we know. We can’t do it immediately.

“But that doesn’t mean that we’ve given up on May 17.

“We’ll be saying as much as we can as soon as we can about international travel.”

When asked if rapid, cheap lateral flow COVID-19 tests could replace the current PCR tests used for travellers, he added: “We want to make things as easy as we possibly can.”

At present, anyone flying into the UK must take a pre-flight PCR test and purchase a two swab package of tests to be taken after landing.

The cost of these tests totals £200 per person.

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However, authorities are now looking into the possibility of low-cost lateral flow tests, in a bid to make holidays accessible to more people.

It comes after easyJet CEO Johan Lungren expressed concerns the Government’s testing for travel plans would make holidays out of reach for the average tourist.

Speaking previously during a live webinar as part of Aviation Week, Mr Lundgren said: “One should not underestimate the difficulties that I think testing provides for people from a cost perspective.

“I sometimes hear representatives from the industry arguing ‘let’s just put testing in place and then we should go’, well the truth of the matter is that particularly if we are looking at the cost of the PCR tests as an example.

“That is way prohibited for a family for four for instance to take these tests perhaps twice because you have to get it when you go to the destination and then also come back.

“In many cases, those costs are actually higher than the fare of the ticket.”

Mr Lundgren also told BBC Radio he does not believe testing should be required for “low-risk” European countries.

In response to this, Mr Johnson said: “The boss of easyJet is right to focus on this issue, we’re going to see what we can do to make things as flexible and as affordable as possible.”

On Monday, the Prime Minister pointed to a rise in cases of COVID-19 across Europe as a cause for concern.

We are hopeful we can get going from May 17 but I do not wish to give hostages to fortune or to underestimate the difficulties we are seeing in some of the countries people are wanting to go to,” he said.

Despite this, he remains positive about the current data across the UK regarding COVID-19 cases and the vaccination rollout.

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