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When is the travel announcement? What time is the next allow list update and when the traffic light system might end

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Throughout the summer, the regular announcements on the UK’s traffic light system regarding travel restrictions have been eagerly awaited by Brits considering travel abroad.

Despite the change in quarantine rules for Amber List countries in July, adding to the list of viable destinations, the Limited Green List has always been the preferred option for many.

With the traffic light system supposed to undergo some significant changes, chances are the next review will be the last in its current form – here’s all you need to know.

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When is the travel announcement?

Announcements on traffic restrictions at traffic lights in the UK take place every three weeks, with the latest coming on August 26.

This review took place on a Thursday (which was previously the most common day for updates), although the previous two updates were both made on Wednesday.

Following this model, it was suggested that the next travel review would take place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, September 16.

However, the schedule has been pushed back after Wednesday’s cabinet reshuffle, meaning it is now expected to take place on Friday, alongside the larger update on the future of the traffic light system.

The exact time has yet to be confirmed, but the announcement will come after ministers approve the plans in final meetings, so it’s likely to be in the afternoon.

Unlike other major developments in Covid’s response, travel updates tend not to be accompanied by a government press conference – changes are instead tweeted by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps .

However, in this case, it seems likely that a more formal announcement will take place.

What are the rules of the traffic light system?

The traffic light system is decided on the basis of the following criteria:

  • The percentage of a country’s population that has been vaccinated
  • The infection rate
  • The prevalence of worrisome variants
  • The country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing

There are now four categories of traffic lights, one more than when Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps first announced the system in May 2021.

  • Green: arrivals must pass a pre-departure test three days before returning to the UK as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test no later than the second day of their return. Quarantine does not apply (unless the Covid test comes back positive) and there is no requirement for further testing.
  • Green Watch List: the same rules as the green list. However, the countries on this list “are at risk of going from green to orange”, potentially in the very short term.
  • Amber: all travelers must pass a pre-departure test three days before return and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test no later than the second day of their return. Unvaccinated travelers should also self-isolate for 10 days and have a second PCR test on day 8. An optional five-day additional test may be performed, with a negative result allowing unvaccinated travelers to “test” out of quarantine. The Day 8 PCR test should always be performed regardless of the result of the optional Day 5 PCR test.
  • Red: arrivals from Red List countries must complete a 10 day stay in a managed quarantine hotel at a cost of £ 2,285 per person, pre-departure testing and mandatory PCR testing no later than day 2 and on or after the eighth day.

When will the traffic light system end?

The next travel update is expected to be the last in its current and familiar format, with the traffic light system set to change drastically from early October.

Under a new two-tier system, it is expected that the Amber and Green Lists would merge into a single Green List, while arrivals from Red Listed destinations will still have to be quarantined in hotels.

The new rules would be considered part of the third and final of three “checkpoints” the government has committed to hold to “review the effectiveness” of the traffic light system when it was first put in place.

Sajid Javid also said he wanted to remove PCR testing for travelers “as soon as possible” amid reports it could happen before the mid-term school break in October.

It is believed that expensive PCR testing could instead be replaced by lateral flow testing, drastically reducing the cost of overseas travel.

The Ministry of Transport has committed to the final checkpoint to take place no later than October 1, so adjustments to the system are expected by then, or even a complete overhaul of the traffic light classification.

All adults aged 18 and over should be offered both jabs by the end of September.


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