Scottish holidaymakers will be able to shop around for the cheapest day two and day eight COVID tests from early September, when they’ll no longer be locked into buying NHS tests.
The Scottish Government said that from next month people in Scotland will have the same right as those in England to choose from a list of private providers on the UK Government’s booking portal.
It said the easing of restrictions ‘has been made possible by enhanced monitoring of the performance and reliability of private testing providers to ensure public health safeguards are maintained’.
The Scottish Government said this ‘additional safeguard of removing any provider that does not meet stringent performance measures’ had given it the confidence to allow Scottish travellers to choose a private test company.
Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care Humza Yousaf said: “The step provides more choice and flexibility for travellers and will provide a boost for the tourism and aviation sector.
“We have had regular engagement with the UK Government to understand the measures being taken to ensure test results will be communicated rapidly and reliably to both individuals and to contact tracing services.
“We have also been reassured that any positive results will be genomically sequenced to quickly identify any variants of concern.
“The decision carefully weighs the benefit to the travel sector against our responsibility to the wider public health, and is a further endorsement of the resounding success of our domestic vaccination roll out.”
Jacqueline Dobson, President of Scotland-based Barrhead Travel, welcomed the move, saying it was ‘excellent news for the Scottish travel industry’.
“For the last few months, Scottish travellers have been disproportionately affected by higher costs and this move will go some way to helping our recovery as travel continues to reopen,” she said.
“The testing challenges do not end here. We need intervention at a UK Government level to really drive prices down to a reasonable cost.
“Our counterparts in Europe have already recognised the need for affordable and accessible testing and the UK must follow suit in order to keep up with global travel recovery.
“The third and final checkpoint, due 1October, must address these issues as well as providing a robust roadmap on exactly how international travel can move forward from the remaining restrictions that are hampering our recovery.”