UK cuts travel red list to just seven countries

Published on : Friday, October 8, 2021


The UK government has decided to cut down the number of countries on the UK travel red list from 54 to seven. As per the latest announcement, South Africa, Brazil and Mexico has been taken off the red list, which requires travellers to quarantine in an approved hotel at their own expense for 10 days. Arrivals from 37 more destinations will have their vaccination status certificates recognised, meaning they can avoid more expensive post-arrival testing requirements.

According to the new decision, vaccinated travellers from Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey will be given similar treatment as returning fully-vaccinated UK residents as long as they have refrained from visiting a red-list country 10 days before arriving in England. Meanwhile, countries like Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Haiti and the Dominican Republic will continue to remain on the red list.

All arriving travellers will still require completing a passenger locator form. The Scottish government said the changes were “agreed on a four-nation basis”. Meanwhile, the Welsh government said that the opening increased opportunities for new infections and variants but it was adopting them because it was not practical to have its own border policy.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes will start from Monday and mark the next step in opening travel. He mentioned that the move will allow families and loved ones to reunite once again. He also said that with fewer restrictions and more people travelling, everyone can continue to move safely forward together along the path of recovery.

This latest decision will be seen as a boost to the airline industry and families separated during the pandemic. The changes come after the UK recently simplified its travel rules cutting down the amber list and changing the advice against holidays for 32 countries. In addition to the shorter red list, the government also said passengers would soon be able to use a photograph of a lateral flow test as a minimum requirement to verify a negative result.

As per current rules, travellers would be required to use more expensive PCR tests for their post-arrival day two screening. People who are not fully vaccinated also need a further PCR test on day eight. A government source said the authorities are still aimed to replace the day two PCR test on arrival with a cheaper lateral flow test by the half-term break, for many schools in England after October 22.

However the DfT said NHS lateral flow devices cannot be used for the purpose of international travel. Airlines and the travel industry praised the recent improved system but urged ministers to implement changes to testing as soon as possible and consider scrapping tests for passengers arriving from low-risk countries.

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