LONDON – Britain’s competition watchdog said on Sunday it would examine the cost of COVID-19 testing for travelers after Health Secretary Sajid Javid complained that the high prices of government-mandated tests prevented some people from going on vacation.
The PCR tests required for most travelers average around 75 pounds (US $ 104) each, or 300 pounds for a family of four, but many companies charge significantly more. Prices quoted by vendors listed on the government website range from 17 pounds (US $ 24) to 250 US pounds ($ 347).
Javid said he asked the Competition and Markets Authority to crack down on “unfair market practices” by test providers.
“People should be able to go on vacation, whether to see family or just to relax, without worrying about excessive fees for PCR tests,” he said on Twitter.
The watchdog has the power to intervene directly when it discovers unfair practices, but it can also advise ministers directly so that they can act more quickly.
“We are aware of concerns about the changing markets for COVID-19 testing for international travelers,” the agency said. “We look forward to providing the Secretary of State with advice on how best to ensure travelers have access to affordable and reliable testing.”
Health officials, meanwhile, administered Pfizer coronavirus vaccines on Sunday at an pop-up vaccination center that was first set up in a nightclub. The Heaven club center in London is part of an effort to encourage young people to get vaccinated.