Government cracks down on Covid testing firms over misleading prices
A passenger walks past signage displaying the way to a Covid-19 test centre, in Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport in London. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)
CALLING on the “cowboy behaviour” of private testing companies, the UK government on Monday (23) announced that more than 80 Covid travel test providers listed on the government’s website will now be issued two-strike warnings over misleading prices.
As per the Department of health and social care (DHSC), 82 Covid travel testing providers – making up around 18 per cent listed – have been identified as displaying lower prices on the government site as compared to what they are actually charging.
The government site will be updated to reflect the actual prices and the companies will be warned this week that they will be removed if they advertise misleading prices again, DHSC said, adding that 57 companies will be removed from the site today as they no longer exist or don’t provide day two and day eight testing.
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said: “It is absolutely unacceptable for any private testing company to be taking advantage of holidaymakers and today’s action clamps down on this cowboy behaviour.”
He added that regular spot checks will also be introduced from this week to make sure companies are complying with the rules to ensure prices displayed are accurate, providers are legitimate and companies have not changed their name to get back on the list.
Companies, if they fail to take corrective action within three days of strike one as part of the new two-strike policy, will be removed from the government site.
The action will help ensure Britons can trust that the testing providers listed on the government site are reliable companies.
Tests booked for travel with companies not listed can still be used for travel, providing those companies meet legal requirements, the department said, adding that guidelines will be published in due course to the market addressing pricing and service standards.
Earlier this month it was confirmed that UK holidaymakers will benefit from cheaper travel testing packages.
As of 13 August, the cost of NHS Test and Trace tests for international arrivals were reduced from £88 to £68 for green or fully vaccinated amber arrivals, and from £170 to £136 for 2 tests for amber arrivals who are not fully vaccinated.