Travel bosses today warned tougher Covid-19 restrictions on global travel have been ‘completely ineffective in the past’, amid the return of PCR tests from tomorrow.

Travel restrictions were implemented weeks after the costly PCR swabs used by returning travellers on October 24 were dropped and was replaced with more economical rapid lateral flow tests.

However, there has been a growing backlash since Boris Johnson stated that every traveller, regardless of whether they have ever received a vaccination, would need to undergo PCR testing within the first two days after arriving in Britain.

The traveller must be able to isolate themselves at home while waiting for their results. However, some critics pointed out that public transport can take them to the quarantine site.

Ministers announced the rule on Saturday, and it will be in effect at 4 am tomorrow. This is to help them track down any possible spread of Omicron variants.   

The average cost of a single PCR swab among more than 450 providers listed on the Government website today was £83 – up by 5 per cent or £4 from £79 yesterday.  

For a family of five this would add £415 to the cost of a trip abroad. By comparison, rapid lateral flow tests are typically about £20 to £25 – adding about £100 to £125.

Furious, a tourism boss called it a travel tax’. This contradicts the Prime Minister’s assertion that “this Christmas will not be as good as last”.

Travellers accused Covid test companies of ‘shameless profiteering’ with some claiming the PCR price has risen by £10, £30 and £44 in three different examples. 

Willie Walsh today, former boss at British Airways’ parent IAG described the reintroduction tighter quarantine testing regulations and testing as a kneejerk decision’ that causes a ‘huge hardship’ on passengers. 

According to Mr Walsh who is the current director-general for the International Air Transport Association’s airline trade organization, he said that he was disappointed by the knee-jerk reactions of governments to the most recent development. 

Travellers line up at London Heathrow Airport's Terminal Two this morning

Today’s London Heathrow Airport Terminal Two is packed with travelers.

A Covid testing centre sign is seen at London Heathrow Airport's Terminal Five yesterday

An advertisement for Covid was seen yesterday at Terminal Five of London Heathrow Airport.

People wait at Heathrow Terminal Five yesterday ahead of the new travel rules coming in

Yesterday, people waited at Heathrow Terminal Five in anticipation of new travel rules.

“It is clear that these measures were completely ineffective in past, but they impose enormous hardship on those who want to reconnect with their families and friends and cause massive financial loss to the tourism industry and the airline industry.

Walsh stated that similar regulations to stop a second outbreak of coronavirus in the UK were not implemented after May’s implementation. He said they aren’t the solution and don’t have long-term benefits.

How do you test UK immigrants? 

Fully-vaccinated individuals entering the UK tomorrow at 4am will have to isolate themselves until they get a positive result on a PCR test. This is done the second day following their arrival.

The tests must be bought from the private sector, typically costing around £55.

Only vaccinated travelers who have not been previously vaccinated were required to undergo a lateral flow test. They did not need self-isolate until they got a positive result.

Non-vaccinated persons will need to continue with one pre-departure blood test, two post-arrival DNA tests and must be kept in quarantine for at least 10 days.

Since Friday, ten African countries were added to the UK’s red list.

Arrivals from those locations must stay in a quarantine hotel for 10 days at a cost of £2,285 for solo travellers.

He added: “I believe that sensible testing protocols which have been proved to be efficient could be instituted which would enable people continue to travel in safety.

“It’s disappointing the government does not reflect upon significant data available.”

Travel bosses and MPs also advised ministers that the price of PCR testing should be reduced to prevent families from going overseas this Christmas.

According to the government, they should either set a price limit on the ‘gold-standard’ swabs, eliminate VAT or give holidaymakers access to free NHS ones.

Travel curbs that will be implemented in the future could increase test costs by several hundred pounds. 

Paul Charles, the chief executive officer of PC Agency travel consulting firm, stated that removing VAT from PCR tests would make travel more affordable.

He stated that these new restrictions are the best Christmas presents anyone could have wished for and will wipe out all inbound tourism.

Last night, the Government released guidance that stated that travellers who are delayed in receiving their test results must remain isolated until they get them, or two weeks after arriving. 

Anybody who has a positive test result must remain at home for 10 days. These new guidelines apply to those who have been fully vaccinated.

For non-vaccinated travelers, a prereturn test must be taken and there will be two PCR testing on day two and eight. Then self-isolating at the home for ten more days is required.

The result is that Britain has been’redlisted’ by Switzerland, which requires arrivals to self-quarantine for ten consecutive days.

How will the new rules affect you? 

  • The requirement to cover your face in public transport will apply to shops, banks, hairdressers and other retail outlets. But it won’t be required in restaurants and pubs.
  • Every traveller arriving in the UK from overseas will need to undergo a PCR test within the first day of their arrival. They must then isolate the results until they get a positive result.
  • Contacts of Omicron-cases will be required to isolate for 10 consecutive days, regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated.
  • Today’s regulations will be laid by Parliament before coming into force tomorrow. Within the next four week, MPs will be able to vote retrospectively. 

Switzerland has decided to “redlist” the UK, which means that Britons will need proof of vaccination, a negative Covid screen and self-isolation when they arrive.

The Swiss measures – which came into force at 8pm on Saturday – were also in response to the spread of the Omicron variant.

This could endanger skiing holidays. The ski season in Switzerland begins from mid to late December and ends around late April. 

Spain has also declared a ban against British tourists who are not vaccinated after Portugal announced that they would need to see proof of an incontinence test for anyone double-jabbed.

Travellers returning to Britain from abroad who purchased rapid tests believing they would suffice now find themselves having to spend hundreds more on PCR swabs.

These tests, which are more costly than others are known as the “gold standard” because they can be sequenced in laboratories to identify Covid variants that are of concern.

But the average cost of a single swab among more than 450 providers listed on the Government website yesterday was £79. For a family of five this would add £395 to the cost of a trip abroad. 

A test may be required by the destination country to confirm entry. By comparison, rapid lateral flow tests are typically about £20 to £25.

Three weeks will pass before the Government reviews the PCR requirements. This raises concerns that the government will reduce demand for Christmas, which is traditionally the busiest time of the year for an already struggling travel industry.

According to the report, bookings are expected to cool and test-paying families may have to rebook.

New Covid-19 rules do not apply to common travel areas 

It was welcomed that the Omicron variant exemption from the new Covid-19 restrictions has been allowed to be enjoyed by the common travel area.

Tomorrow morning, new tougher measures will be implemented for UK arrivals.

Omicron is a strain of bacteria that can spread quickly and will require all Omicron contacts to be isolated for at least 10 consecutive days.

The CTA, which encompasses Great Britain and Northern Ireland as well as the Channel Islands, will be exempted from this restriction.

Simon Coveney from the Irish Foreign Affairs Ministry welcomed this move. He clarified that UK-bound travellers will not be affected due to new Covid-19 variant. The Irish Department of Health has announced their own mitigation measures against Omicron on Saturday, which include mandatory home quarantine without regard to vaccine status.

Henry Smith of Tory, the chairman of cross-party Future of Aviation Group of Members, said to the Mail that the price of PCR tests should not exceed a fast test.

‘Early symptoms suggest Omicron doesn’t have a more severe strain than previous ones so I hope that the PCR testing reintroduced to international arrivals can’t be removed during the three-week review.

“This is crucial to the sector’s recovery and especially for Christmas.

Ben Bradshaw MP is a member on the Commons transportation committee. He stated: “There should absolutely be a limit, like other European nations have.

“This will stop the demand for the product, already very low than in the rest of Europe. This is especially true considering the need to quarantine your samples while we wait for our PCR results.

Julia Lo Buesaid, the chief executive officer of Advantage Travel Partnership said that she doesn’t understand why government won’t allow travellers to use free NHS PCR testing for three weeks. Because private providers offer an absolute free-for all, people are ripped-off and don’t get results in time. This can extend their quarantine.

According to the United Nations, World Tourism Organisation (UN’s tourism body), global tourism revenue will fall by half this year from the level it was before the pandemic. 

Abta, which is the trade association of UK tour operators, stated that increased testing costs for arrivals into the UK would have an effect on holiday demand. This will add pressure to an already difficult industry.

Abta acknowledges that the situation is rapidly changing and must put public health first. But, the requirement to have all arriving travelers undergo a PCR testing and then self-isolate until a negative result returns is a major blow to travel companies. Many of these businesses were just beginning to recover from 20 months of restrictive restrictions.

These changes will raise the cost of holidays for consumers, and will therefore impact the sector’s recovery. Therefore, it is vital to carefully review the decision and to remove restrictions promptly when it is clear that there is no threat to the UK vaccine programme.

“The government must now also consider tailoring support to travel businesses that were among the most severely affected by the pandemic.”

The Laboratory and Testing Industry Organisation, the trade association for Covid testing companies said that reintroducing PCR testing in international travel was a prudent and necessary step.

“Our members are working diligently to allow passengers with booked antigen testing to make the switch to PCR. Also, we want our labs to be able quickly to identify any Omicron variant cases.

MailOnline also reached out to the LTIO in an attempt to get their reaction to accusations that test firms had increased prices following the announcement by the PCR.