All Covid tests for travel will disappear, Grant Shapps has suggested, as holiday firms saw a surge in bookings.
The Transport Secretary indicated that the final lateral flow swabs that fully jabbed holidaymakers still have to take on arrival in the UK will be axed, to allow test-free travel.
Sources suggested it would happen within “a reasonable time frame” as ministers sought to revive the travel industry after two years of on-off restrictions.
His pledge came as travel companies reported increases of between 40 and 200 per cent in website visits or bookings, after the Government’s decision to ditch PCR and pre-departure tests for fully-jabbed travellers.
Pre-departure tests are axed from 4am on Friday, while PCR day two tests and the associated self-isolation will disappear from Sunday under the changes announced on Wednesday.
Mr Shapps said the tests, introduced to combat the spread of the omicron variant, had “outlived their usefulness” as the Government eased restrictions to allow people to live with the virus.
“I could see a world in which you didn’t need to do testing at all. I can’t guarantee it will be the same the other way around because that depends on what other countries around the world decide to put in place,” he said.
“I do imagine that we will, for the foreseeable future, be living in a world where vaccination status is something that countries are looking for. Certainly when I speak to a lot of my opposite numbers around the world, that’s what they ask about.”
He stressed that the unvaccinated still faced pre-departure tests, 10-day quarantine and PCR swabs on days two and eight.
Ministers are also considering adding the third booster jabs to the definition of fully vaccinated, which would leave those who spurned them facing the reintroduction of tests.