It’s farewell, farewell, sayonara to the traffic light system for Brits who wish to travel abroad. From October 4, the red-amber-green division will be replaced by one that looks more like “stop-go”. With the removal of one of the mandatory Covid-19 tests for most travelers – and a more generous definition of “fully immunized” that includes children – international travel this fall will involve slightly less expense and hassle.
Main photo: Mardin, Turkey (Getty Images)
What are the rules now?
When planning a trip abroad, you should now ask yourself two main questions: is your destination on the red list and are you fully vaccinated? If your respective answers are ‘no’ and ‘yes’ then the trickiest thing you have to do on the journey back to the UK is to book your day 2 test, and even that should get easier (we more on that later). You will still need to complete a passenger tracking form as well.
The ‘fully vaccinated’ label does not only apply to people who have been double stung in the UK, as vaccination programs from more countries are recognized and some vaccine mixes for the first and second vaccines allowed. Simplified travel privileges for fully vaccinated people also apply to anyone under the age of 18 living in the UK or in a country with a vaccination program recognized by UK authorities. You can find a list, along with the new rules in their entirety, on the UK Government Portal.
As always, these Department of Transportation regulations are only one side of the coin. To travel outside the UK you will need to consider not only the rules of your destination, but also whether that country has a UK Foreign Office notice against it, for Covid or for any other reason, with implications for your travel insurance. You can check the country specific information here.
Does the orange list exist?
No name after October 4, but yes indeed. All destinations outside of the UK and Ireland will now be placed on one of two lists: a continuous red list (see below for what that means) and the rest of the world. The latter means a merger of the green and orange lists, but the new rules are closer to those of the old orange list than to the green list. Prior to October 4, unvaccinated travelers could come to the UK from Green List countries without having to self-quarantine at home – they will now have to do so.
Which countries have changed level?
The most recent updates from Grant Shapps, the Transportation Secretary, and his colleagues at DfT arrived on September 17 and, unlike previous announcements, it was all good news for travelers. Eight countries were dropped from the red list: Bangladesh, Egypt, Kenya, Maldives, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey – the last one being the most anticipated.
What are the changes to the tests?
The greatest relief for fully vaccinated travelers will be no longer having to organize a pre-departure test abroad in the days leading up to return to the UK. If you are planning a trip to a country that does not require Covid-19 testing on fully vaccinated arrivals (France, for example), that means you can now go through the entire holiday process with just one test needed: the United Kingdom. UK Day 2 test. This is the same requirement as before, to get tested at some point between your arrival in the UK (day 0) and the end of day 2.
The replacement of these day 2 PCR tests with cheaper side flow tests for returning double-needle travelers was also announced at the same time, but is not expected to go into effect until the end of October. This is a change that may not be reflected across the UK, although even when decentralized governments criticized travel policy changes announced by Westminster, a ‘four nations ”generally won. The Test to Release program remains the only major travel regulation reserved for England. This will continue to be an option for those required to do the home quarantine after October 4.
What happens if your country turns red?
If a country you have stayed in in the last ten days joins the Red List and the change is in effect when you arrive in the UK, you will need to stay 11 nights in a quarantine hotel, regardless of your location. vaccination status – same red list rules as before. Travelers from Red Listed countries should book an approved quarantine hotel before returning to the UK; it costs £ 2,285 for a single adult, £ 3,715 for a couple or £ 6,575 for two parents and two children over 11.
There are currently 54 countries and territories on the Red List, including all of mainland South America and Southern Africa, plus a few more in Southeast Asia, Central America and the Caribbean. The closest Red List countries to the UK are Montenegro and Tunisia, and other popular destinations on the list include Cape Verde, Cuba, Mexico, Tanzania, and Thailand. Government redlist updates are expected to take place every three weeks (the next reviews are expected around October 7 and October 28), but a red list could suddenly occur if the Covid situation in the country s ‘significantly worsens. Typically, it takes three to four days between the announcement and the effective date of any change, which means a scramble for flights from newly redlisted countries returning to the UK. before 4 a.m. on the day in question.