Fines of up to £10,000 for Covid travel test ‘cowboys’ – Javid


ompanies “messing around with costs” of PCR tests for holidaymakers will face fines of up to £10,000, the Health Secretary has said following a review by the UK competition regulator.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) warned there is a “race for the bottom” in the PCR testing market which could see travellers lose out and called on the Government for an “interventionist” response.

The CMA advised that the Government should create a one-stop shop list of “approved test providers by significantly improving the basic standards to qualify for inclusion and remaining on the list”.

It also called for a more comprehensive monitoring and enforcement programme to ensure test providers meet the Government’s standards and receive swift sanctions for failings.

It comes weeks after the regulator said it found evidence providers of some Covid-19 travel tests flouted consumer rules and threatened enforcement action.

Last week, the watchdog confirmed that Expert Medicals, one of the UK’s biggest PCR testing companies, is under investigation following a series of complaints from customers.

Recent weeks have underlined that we will not hesitate to take action against any PCR test provider we suspect is breaking the law and exploiting their customers

The CMA said on Friday that the Government needs a “more interventionist” approach to address concerns regarding the market, and Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced new fines.

Mr Javid said: “It is completely unacceptable for any private testing company to take advantage of holidaymakers and we are taking action to clamp down on cowboy behaviour.”

He said: “Through our regular reviews and spot-checks, we have identified even more providers that were messing around with costs and have now removed 91 providers from and corrected inaccurate prices of 135 private providers who will be removed from the list if they advertise misleading prices again.

“From September 21, in order to ensure travel test providers are performing to a high legalised standard, there will be tough new penalties for companies that fail to follow the law, including fixed fines of up to £10,000.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid in Downing Street (Stefan Rousseau/PA) / PA Wire

“I am reviewing the recommendations from the Competition and Markets Authority and will outline further changes shortly to ensure consumers are given the best tests at the very best prices.”

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