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What are the new UK travel rules? Green, orange and red list change after latest travel update – and if new rules apply in Scotland


While there were only a few changes to the UK’s green, orange and red country lists during the last travel review on Thursday August 26, the UK government announced an overhaul of its travel system on Friday September 17th.

Rules surrounding international travel have fluctuated since the introduction of the four countries’ traffic light system, due to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic.

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But in an effort to ‘simplify’ its traffic light travel system and ease coronavirus testing requirements for some UK travelers, the government has set new travel rules changing the current state of affairs for visiting and returning from red, orange and green list countries.

What are the new UK travel rules? The green, orange and red list changes after the last travel update – and if new rules apply in Scotland (Image credit: Getty Images)

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It was also announced that the holiday hotspot, Turkey, will drop off the red list of countries with the highest risk of catching coronavirus, along with several other global destinations.

In the wake of the changes, here’s what you need to know about the new travel rules announced today – and whether the UK government changes will apply in Scotland.

What are the new UK travel rules?

Announced by UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Friday afternoon, the current traffic light travel system will end on October 4.

While the red list of high risk Covid destinations is expected to be maintained by the UK government, the green and orange lists will be removed in favor of a more relaxed global system.

This will allow fully vaccinated travelers to avoid taking a pre-departure test before returning to England if returning from a country not on the Red List.

Unvaccinated travelers or those returning from one of the UK’s new Red List destinations will still need to take a pre-departure test and PCR tests on the second and eighth days of their return, reflecting current rules for orange list countries.

However, travelers who have a valid vaccination certificate from 17 additional countries and territories – including Japan and Singapore – will be treated as if they have been trapped in the UK thanks to the introduction of an eligible vaccinated traveler policy. .

The 17 countries added to the new eligible vaccinated travelers policy are:

As before, future changes to this system will be informed by public health advice, including the Joint Biosafety Center’s assessment of the latest Covid-19 data.

But the biggest review of the UK government’s new international travel system won’t take place for several months, with the government suggesting it will take place early in the new year “to provide more certainty for the 2022 spring and summer seasons. “.

Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps noted: “Today’s changes mean a simpler and more straightforward system.

“A solution with less testing and lower costs, enabling more people to travel, see loved ones or do business around the world while giving the travel industry a boost.

“Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy and with more than 8 out of 10 adults vaccinated in the UK we are now able to introduce a proportional updated structure that reflects the new landscape. “

When will the new UK travel rules take effect?

The changes to testing requirements and the removal of the need for pre-departure testing when leaving the UK will take effect in England from 4 October.

It is also at this time that the orange and green lists of countries, vestiges of the traffic light system, will be officially deleted.

And the eligible vaccinated travelers program, treating vaccinated travelers from Taiwan, Australia, Canada and other countries as if they had been stung in the UK, will also go into effect on October 4.

From the end of October, fully vaccinated travelers will be able to use a lateral flow test instead of a more expensive PCR test as the Day 2 test, with the government hoping this will take effect in time for travelers returning to England during mid -October. breaks.

Will the new UK government travel rules apply in Scotland?

With the Scottish government set to follow in the footsteps of the UK government and soon abandon the traffic light system, not all of the new Downing Street travel rules will come into effect in Scotland.

The Scottish government confirmed on Friday 17th September that it would not pass the UK government’s decision to remove pre-departure testing requirements to England and allow the use of cheaper lateral flow tests as day tests 2.

This means that testing for the coronavirus before and after travel will still be part of Scotland’s international travel requirements.

The Scottish government has said this was due to concerns about how the UK government’s proposed easing of testing requirements could impact public health in the country.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson, welcomed the new changes to the international travel system, but expressed the Scottish government’s concerns over proposals to relax testing requirements.

Mr Matheson said: ‘This is a major step, but with reasonable guarantees to recognize the success of the Scottish Government’s vaccination program.

‘The extension of the eligible vaccinated travelers policy, combined with changes to the traffic light system, will give a welcome boost to the Scottish tourism industry.

“However, we are concerned that the UK government’s proposals to remove the requirement for a pre-departure test for some travelers will weaken our ability to protect the public health of Scottish communities.

He added: “While we wish to maintain a four-nation approach to these issues, we urgently need to consider their implications. “

Which countries will drop from the UK’s red list?

It was joined by countries like Pakistan, Thailand, the Dominican Republic and the Maldives.

But some of these destinations will no longer be considered high-risk for UK visitors – or will require the massive costs of a mandatory hotel quarantine upon their return to the UK.

The British government announced on Friday that starting Wednesday, September 22 at 4 a.m., eight countries would be removed from the red list.

Additional reports from PA Whitehall Editor-in-Chief Gavin Cordon

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