Saudi student who spent $2,000 on Covid tests welcomes UK travel rule change

The UK will no longer need vaccinated travellers to undergo PCR tests before departure or on arrival

A student from Saudi Arabia studying in the UK said easing travel rules will make a massive difference after she spent about $2,000 on PCR tests.

Kholud Ahmed, a Saudi student studying business, described trying to travel to and from the UK in July as a “nightmare”.

The UK government on Friday announced that vaccinated travellers, including those from Saudi Arabia, will no longer need to quarantine or present a PCR test upon arrival from October 4.

“Honestly, it was a nightmare trying to travel to and back from the UK,” Ms Ahmed told The National. “I had three PCR tests, Covid-19 tests and institutional quarantine for seven days in Saudi Arabia and 10 days in the UK upon my return. I spent around $2,000 on just getting tests done.”

The business student said she was “relieved that we won't have to go through this ordeal now, things will be much easier for all of us".

PCR tests in the UK cost anywhere from $27 to £412.

Maliha Abdullah, a Saudi citizen, travelled to London on Sunday to see her family for the first time since the outbreak of Covid-19. As she flew before the rule change, she is in quarantine and said she is “desperately waiting” to see her grandparents.

“Even though I took both doses of the vaccine in Saudi Arabia, I had to do my PCR test 72 hours before I travelled and now, I have to do them here as well, in addition to quarantine.”

Ms Abdullah also said she was glad about the rule change, saying that if she came a little later, “I could have spent this time with my family instead”.

Arrivals from Saudi Arabia, currently on the amber list, must take a test before departure, isolate for 10 days on arrival with another PCR test on day 2.

The UK has simplified its international travel rules, removing the red, amber and green traffic light system and replacing it with a red list and green list.

Those who have a recognised vaccine will no longer need to quarantine or take PCR tests upon arrival.

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said the new rules will be in place at least until the end of the year, in a bid to boost confidence among travellers who fear unexpected travel rule changes.

“The purpose is to make it easier to travel without the bureaucracy, without so many tests, and with a greater level of certainty now that we've got so many people vaccinated,“ Mr Shapps said.

Travel bookings soared after the announcement and airline stocks rose.

Updated: September 19th 2021, 12:50 PM