Travel red list to be slashed to seven countries as 47 destinations are removed
Written by Gavin on 8th October 2021
South Africa, Thailand, Mexico and the Seychelles are among 47 countries being taken off England and Wales’s travel red list as it is slashed to just seven.
As of 4am on Monday, 47 countries will be removed from the red list so travellers arriving from those destinations will no longer have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 11 nights at a cost of £2,285.
The only countries remaining on the red list are Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also added 37 countries to the list of locations with approved COVID-19 vaccine programmes, so travellers from those non-red list countries no longer have to quarantine for 10 days on arrival from Monday, take a pre-departure test or the day eight post-arrival test.
The destinations include India, Turkey, Hong Kong, South Africa, Brazil, Pakistan, Kenya and Ghana.
Also included is the United Nations COVID-19 vaccination programme, under which staff at UN duty stations who cannot get World Health Organisation approved vaccines will be provided with them.
Mr Shapps added that later this month, fully vaccinated travellers from approved countries will be able to take a lateral flow test on day two after arriving, instead of a pricey PCR test, and they will be able to send a picture of their test to verify the result.
If they test positive then they will be given a free PCR test to confirm.
Passengers who are fully vaccinated in countries not on the approved list will still have to take a pre-departure test, a day two and eight test and complete 10 days self-isolation, with the option of test to release on day five.
All of the new measures apply to people arriving into England and Wales and travellers are advised to check the Foreign Office website for countries they wish to travel to as many are not allowing international visitors.
Scotland and Northern Ireland have not announced if they will follow suit, but they often have throughout the pandemic.
Mr Shapps said: “With half-term and winter sun around the corner, we’re making it easier for families and loved ones to reunite, by significantly cutting the number of destinations on the red list, thanks in part to the increased vaccination efforts around the globe.
“Restoring people’s confidence in travel is key to rebuilding our economy and levelling up this country. With less restrictions and more people travelling, we can all continue to move safely forward together along our pathway to recovery.”
The travel industry has been largely positive about the announcements following more than 18 months of minimal travel and continuous rule changes.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA – The Travel Association, said the smaller red list is a “sensible step forward” and means now is the “best time in a long time” to book an overseas holiday.
British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said the UK will “benefit” from the changes but also called for an end to testing for fully vaccinated travellers “to ensure we don’t lose our place on the global stage”.
Following the announcement, the airline is resuming flights to South Africa’s Cape Town and increasing services to Johannesburg and Mexico, and to the US in November after the States said it would lift a travel ban on fully vaccinated UK and EU travellers.
Virgin Atlantic welcomed the move but said fully vaccinated travellers returning from low-risk countries should not have to complete day two tests.
And Julia Simpson, president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said it was “great news for countries such as South Africa which has been severely impacted by its red list status”, but said there is “no justification” for any red list now.
The announcement was made days after the traffic light system was scrapped in favour of just a red list.
Yesterday, the Foreign Office lifted advice against all but essential travel to 32 countries based purely on their COVID situation, with more to have that advice lifted soon. Many insurers use that advice as a point to not provide travel insurance so lifting it means travellers will now be covered if going to those nations – and if those countries are allowing visitors.
Fully vaccinated travellers arriving from non-red list countries no longer need to take a pre-departure test before arriving in England.
Unvaccinated travellers coming from non-red list countries, and those who are vaccinated but coming from unapproved countries, still need to take a pre-departure test for travelling to England, quarantine at home for 10 days and take a day two PCR test.
People arriving from the few remaining red list countries will still need to take pre-departure tests, go into hotel quarantine and take PCR tests on day two and eight.