New Covid testing site set up for cruise passengers near Portsmouth International Port

Arrival of Virgin crusie ship Scarlet Lady in Portsmouth Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 210621-13)

Rapid lateral flow tests will be made available at a site near Portsmouth International Port – with access from the port via shuttle bus – providing quick test results for those embarking on the Virgin Voyages-owned ship, the Scarlet Lady.

As part of their holiday package, cruise ship passengers with Virgin Voyages are required to have two Covid vaccines, and also agree to have a negative antigen test before embarkation.

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The new testing facility, run by NPH Group, is located under two fully equipped marquees. On arrival, travellers go through a check-in process and are required to show their vaccine status using the NHS app or vaccination card, as well as going into a testing booth. Passengers then get their results via email 20 minutes later.

Mark Philpott, chief executive officer, at NPH Group said: ‘We are extremely proud to be working with Virgin Voyages to make quality, efficient Covid-19 testing convenient and reliable for travellers. This not only helps people to cruise in British waters again, it also helps to support the cruise industry and open up more possibilities of international cruising, which was hit hard by the pandemic, and it will provide added revenues to one of our English ports.

‘Our system ensures that travellers have a quick and smooth experience when going through the testing process near the port.

‘It’s great to be able to provide this service to Virgin Voyages and help support them in getting people back out to sea safely again.’

Throughout August, up to 12,000 passengers are set to sail on the Scarlet Lady.

Portsmouth International Port’s passenger operations manager, Andrew Williamson, added: ‘The safety of passengers and staff remains our priority, and we want journeys through our port to be as comfortable and easy as possible.

‘We’re delighted to be working with NPH Group and Virgin Voyages on this dedicated testing facility which will ensure a smooth start for sailors boarding Scarlet Lady on the forthcoming Summer Soiree series of cruises from Portsmouth.’

It comes as the government recently announced new travel rules, including the removal of self-isolation for fully vaccinated people returning from France.

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