Travel test system ‘not up to the job’

THREE friends who had planned to spend the recent bank holiday weekend in Jersey say they are ‘sad and frustrated’ after confusion over pre-travel Covid tests meant they had to cancel their trip.

Covid testing area in the arrivals area at Jersey Airport. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (30813994)
Covid testing area in the arrivals area at Jersey Airport. Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (30813994)

And one of the travellers blames the Jersey government, saying the system is ‘not up to the job’.

David Jones, his husband and another friend were due to fly from Heathrow to Jersey at midday on Friday 30 April and return the following Monday. They estimate they would have contributed around £2,000 to the Jersey economy.

Mr Jones (46) said that in order not to have to self-isolate on arrival they obtained pre-travel tests a few days earlier.

But the day before they were due to fly they were told that the Jersey government would not approve all their tests.

Mr Jones said: ‘We had been tested in advance for Covid and submitted our negative tests to the Jersey government in advance of our flight.

‘Two of the tests were from the same company in London. On Thursday one of those was approved by the Jersey government and one was rejected – which makes no sense at all.’

One of the group obtained his test from a different company. Mr Jones said: ‘It was also rejected. But we know that someone else who used that company had their test accepted by the Jersey government.

‘We ended up cancelling our trip at the last minute and are out of pocket as a result.

‘I would say that the Jersey pre-departure test approval process is currently not up to the job.’

The group had booked two rooms for three nights in a St Helier hotel, meals out each evening and car hire. Mr Jones estimated that around ‘£2,000 of spend in tourist businesses in the Island has been lost’.

‘The businesses we have cancelled with have all been very understanding,’ he said. ‘But it’s a shame that they have lost revenue as a result of delays and inconsistency by the Jersey government.’

Their airline, British Airways, has offered them vouchers for a future flight.

‘Our money is still in BA’s account,’ said Mr Jones.

This would have been Mr Jones’s first visit to Jersey and he added: ‘We’ve done a bit of travelling over the last year further afield and this is the first time we’ve had to cancel a trip.

‘We’re not angry – just sad and frustrated. Other people will cancel their trips because of the complexity.’

He believes the problem lies with the many different testing labs in Britain, and those from which Jersey is prepared to accept test results.

The Island will only accept tests from labs approved at the highest level by the UK Accreditation System (UKAS). Mr Jones said: ‘Very few UK commercial labs have reached that accreditation stage.

‘It is quite tricky to establish which testing companies meet the Jersey requirements. It’s not made clear on the government website.

‘Clearly the requirement is so complicated and confusing, and even the Jersey government officials charged with overseeing it can’t apply it consistently and fairly.

‘Everything is done on email, so you can’t ring anyone to talk about it.’

Last month, Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham warned that tourists could be deterred from coming to Jersey this summer by the complicated testing rules that overseas visitors face.

The JEP asked the government for a response but had not received one at the time of going to print.

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