England eases COVID-19 testing rules for most incoming passengers from Oct. 24

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FILE PHOTO: A worker sanitises a barrier at the International arrivals area of Terminal 5 in London's Heathrow Airport

LONDON (Reuters) - Fully vaccinated passengers arriving in England from low-risk countries from Oct. 24 will no longer have to take expensive COVID-19 tests, the British government said on Thursday.

Last month the government simplified the rules for international travel to England in a boost to the tourism industry, which has blamed the testing and complicated rules for the slowness of a recovery in air travel over the summer.

The government said that from Oct. 24, the start of school half-term holidays across much of England, fully vaccinated passengers and most under 18s arriving from countries not on the red list could take a lateral flow test on or before day two of their arrival, rather than a PCR lab test.

Lateral flow tests are cheaper and provide a faster result.

"Taking away expensive mandatory PCR testing will boost the travel industry and is a major step forward in normalising international travel and encouraging people to book holidays with confidence," Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said in a statement.

The government said passengers must use lateral flow tests purchased from a private provider listed on the government's website, rather than free ones available as part of the government Test and Trace scheme, and passengers must upload a photo of their test and booking reference to verify the result.

Anyone with a positive lateral flow test will be provided with a free confirmatory PCR test through the National Health Service.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Daniel Wallis)