Ministers are set to reduce the number of countries on the government hotel quarantine red list with a range of destinations that should be open to vaccinated travelers, it emerged.
It comes as new ‘cheaper and easier’ travel rules take effect from today, giving vacationers a major boost ahead of this month’s mid-term break.
The UK’s traffic light travel system, comprising countries on the green, amber and red list, has been removed, while testing requirements have been heavily watered down for fully vaccinated passengers.
Under the new guidelines, countries will be placed either on the red list, requiring hotel quarantine, or in the rest of the world. Ministers will also reduce the number of countries on the red list to just nine, significantly opening up destinations for vacationers and business travelers.
Brazil, Mexico and even South Africa could be removed from the list requiring mandatory quarantine in hotels, with Thailand seen as more “marginal”.
Senior sources from Whitehall said I The government’s goal was to “continue to reduce the number of destinations on the red list with each review,” but declined to question how many countries would be removed from reports of over 40 that could be removed.
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said, “We are accelerating toward a future where travel continues to reopen safely and stay open for good, and today’s rule changes are good news for families, businesses and the travel industry.
“Our priority remains to protect public health but, with more than 8 out of 10 people now fully vaccinated, we are able to take these steps to reduce the cost of testing and help the industry continue to recover. “
What do the rule changes mean for the holidays?
The overseas destinations have been divided into just two categories; the red list and the rest of the world.
Fully vaccinated people can travel to most countries without needing to self-quarantine. To be considered fully immunized, people must have received their second vaccine at least 14 days before their trip.
The vaccine must have been administered by the NHS or by a vaccination program approved abroad, but many jabs given in other countries are not accepted in the UK.
Previously, passengers arriving in the UK were required to undergo a pre-departure antigen test (lateral flow) within three days of departure. Now travelers do not need to prove a negative test before traveling, with a single PCR test booked for shortly after their return.
Scotland last week ‘reluctantly’ decided to align its approach to international travel with the rest of the UK, meaning the same rules will apply.
Do I still need a PCR test?
Previously, double-bitten travelers returning from Amber List countries had to take two PCR tests on the second and eighth days after arrival.
From today, passengers must book and pay for a single PCR test to be performed no later than the second day of their return to the country. They must also complete a passenger tracking form before their arrival in the country.
However, these rules will soon change. Ministers pledged to remove PCR testing required on arrival in the UK in favor of cheaper rapid lateral flow testing, with changes to be ready by the end of the mid-term break.
Testing changes could save fully vaccinated travelers hundreds of pounds. However, people arriving from a red tier destination like Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines or South Africa will still need to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel priced at £ 2,285 for solo travelers.
Can I travel to the UK from Red List countries?
Travel from Red List countries to the UK is only permitted for UK and Irish nationals and those with a right of residence.
If you are from a Red List country, you must spend ten days in a quarantine hotel for £ 2,285 per adult. This applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status.
Here you need to take a test no later than the second day and on or after the eighth day of quarantine.
Direct flights from Red List countries can only arrive at London Heathrow and Birmingham Airport, and you can only take indirect flights to:
- heathrow airport
- Gatwick Airport
- London City Airport
- Birmingham Airport
- Bristol Airport
- Newcastle Airport
- Farnborough Airport
- Biggin Hill Airport
Which countries are on the red list?
Red List destinations are considered to have the highest risk of coronavirus for travelers. There are currently 54 countries on the travel red list, including large parts of Africa and Latin America.
- Green cap
- Congo (Democratic Republic)
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- French Guiana
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- Trinidad and Tobago
What if I am not fully vaccinated?
Travel will become more difficult for those who are not fully vaccinated, as they will no longer be able to benefit from the green list.
Regardless of where they come from, unvaccinated people will need to be quarantined for ten days at home upon their return to the UK. In England, they can leave earlier if they pay and take a test on the fifth day which turns out negative.
Unlike those who are fully vaccinated, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people will need to take a coronavirus test three days before traveling to the UK, and then book and pay for the tests on the second and eighth days after arrival.
They must also complete a passenger locator form within 48 hours of arrival.
Why was the traffic light system abolished?
The traffic light system has been accused of being confusing and overly complex, with a green list, an amber list, an amber list plus and a red list.
Families said they scrambled to return to the UK as countries moved from list to list with little warning, meaning the rules they should follow on their trip have changed.
How has the travel industry reacted?
Airlines and tour operators have been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic and have accused the government of being too slow to relax and simplify the rules for international travel.
Tim Alderslade, managing director of Airlines UK, a trade body representing UK carriers, said things are “moving in the right direction” with the removal of restrictions, which will make “travel easier and cheaper for people. “.
But he warned: “There is still a lot to do. This is not a job done, and ministers should keep in mind that we remain an outlier on arrival testing for vaccinated passengers.
“In the short term, phasing out PCR testing by the mid-October week is essential, and we look forward to clarification on the start date for this as soon as possible. “