A British holidaymaker feels ‘ripped off’ by the new Covid travel restrictions that were announced over the weekend.
Chris Parker, 32 from Andover had planned to go to Milan tomorrow morning to attend the Liverpool Milan football match.
However, he has now spent more on his travel tests than he did for his ticket to the game.
The engineer is jetting off with friends and will returning to the UK less than 24 hours later, but he is required to pay for a pre-departure lateral flow test and Day 2 PCR test for when he arrives back.
On Saturday 4 December, it was announced that from 4am on Tuesday, all people coming into the UK must have evidence of a negative lateral flow test result.
The news comes just a week after the government announced that lateral flows were no longer accepted as a Day 2 test, and that travellers will have to purchase a PCR from a private test clinic instead.
Since Saturday, Chris has been scrambling to understand the new rules changes and to for arrange tests to be completed.
Speaking to the Mirror, Chris, who flies out tomorrow at 12:45pm, said: “I fly back home at 7am on Wednesday, I’m literally just going to the airport and we will probably sleep in a chair in the airport until our flight.
“I did my passenger locator form on Friday, but the rules changed so I booked a Day 2 test with Randox for my return on Wednesday.
“I collected it yesterday but over the weekend [the government] said that the rules were changing. It was saying ‘you may need to provide proof of a negative Covid test a few days before you depart’.
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“That wasn’t very clear and the British Airways wasn’t clear either, so I did a ( NHS ) lateral flow test this morning thinking it would be fine and uploaded the result to the website, but I got an email saying ‘incorrect Covid test attached’.”
Chris is frustrated that travellers are forced to pay for a test by a private test provider even though the NHS provides free PCR and lateral flow testing.
He said: “I don’t understand what the difference is between an NHS test and a private.
“The rules are so convoluted. I was obviously frustrated 18 months ago that there were [no restrictions], but now there is no clear instruction that you have to pay for a test, and if we do, we have to pay for a test that’s exactly the same as the NHS.
“I just feel ripped off, that’s what I felt the whole time. The whole testing thing, it just feels like a scam.”
Randox, the company that Chris booked his test with, was recently at the centre of the Owen Paterson scandal.
The disgraced former minister was accused of profiting more than £100,000 a year on top of his MP salary by working as a consultant for Randox Laboratories and Lynn’s Country foods.
Paterson was found to have breached lobbying rules in an “egregious” way by the Commons Standards Committee and has since stepped down as an MP.
Randox, which has also paid £160,000 to the Conservative Party, was handed nearly £600 million worth of Covid testing contracts.
It is one of the many test providers that travellers are forced to buy a test from instead of using NHS testing.
Chris added: “The PCR test that you take goes off into a laboratory, but when I came back from Madrid in October, when I was doing the test it felt the same as an NHS lateral flow test. How have I paid £40 for this?
“I did the lateral flow test this morning, it said it was incorrect, I don’t know what that means. What is a correct test? I’ve got a negative test.”
Chris is meant to be looking after his two young children today while his wife is at work and has the car, which has made the process of getting the correct tests and documents sorted in time more stressful.
He said: “I wouldn’t be able to get a lateral flow sent to me in time.
“If I was somehow able to get my wife’s car in time, I would have to drive 20 miles to Basingstoke to collect a test from Randox, but I don’t know if I order it I can collect it in an hour.
“Ultimately, I’ve paid for a ticket for the Milan Liverpool game, and now there’s all these spanners thrown in the works.”
Sadly, Chris lost his job at the beginning of the pandemic as the project he was working on was cancelled.
He has so far been unable to find another job, and the extra cost of the testing has come as a blow.
Chris said: “That’s what grates as well. All of this unnecessary expense when things are bad enough as they are. I have to pay for a test that is exactly the same as the free NHS ones.
“I paid £35 to collect a Randox test and I think I saw a lateral flow for £17 or £21. That’s £55 on tests which is more than tickets for the match…The testing is costing more than the flight, the train and coach.
“Normally it’s impossible to get tickets to a Liverpool away game in England, so when I saw the tickets I jumped at it. I don’t think i’d get this chance again.
“I’m not working – I’ve done some volunteering locally – but it was something for me to look forward to. In terms of mental health, having something to look forward to, having a trip, it can be the light at the end of the tunnel sometimes.
“We haven’t had that for so long so if you have the opportunity to do it, you should, its something you should grasp.”