The petition, which can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/sajidjavid-dhscgovuk-the-uk-government-should-provide-free-pcr-covid-tests-for-travel, asks for the UK government to provide free PCR Covid tests for travel.
Neill Farkhondeh set up the petition, which at the time of going to press had nearly 500,000 signatures, and told The Portugal News: “Initially, I started the petition because I am passionate about exploring the world and have spent the last twenty years doing that, I also work in the travel sector and have seen many colleagues take early retirement or be made redundant - protecting employment within the sector is a key.
“The scope of the petition has changed as it’s grown - it’s not a petition for holiday makers, it’s a petition for anyone who wants or needs to travel but simply can’t afford to. Another aspect of the petition is the Covid testing market and rip off fees consumers face. I had my own horror story with a testing company and when I read the reasons people have signed the petition, I see even more – this market was not created to make travel safe, it’s a get rich quick scheme, with government endorsement, that is costing people their jobs, preventing people from visiting loved ones and leaving the travel sector out to dry.”
The petition has now gained considerable momentum and is now being supported by other entities. Neill explained: “The team at Change have been immensely supportive, especially Honor Barber. The petition also has the support of BALPA (British Airline Pilots Association) who represent over 10,000 UK pilots and are fighting to extend furlough and save jobs - they have my support; we are fighting for the same thing. Their support adds valuable clarity to the petition”.
The ultimate goal of the petition is to make travel affordable to all - not exclusive to a few, to protect employment in the travel sector and give the industry a much-needed boost.
“Free testing for travel would be great, at least to kick start the industry again rather than hamper it with extortionate fees that make travel less affordable. The hospitality sector was given excellent support with the “eat out to help out” scheme where consumers received a 50 percent discount – what did the travel sector get? Nothing. It received quite the opposite and each traveller is looking at £200 extra per trip. There are compromises of course; a capped testing fee, government run testing also at a capped fee, charity run testing – all of these would kick start industry, protect jobs within the sector and mostly put the money back into the UK economy rather than directly in someone’s pocket,” Neill concluded.