Only seven countries will remain on the UK’s travel red list from next Monday.
A total of 47 of the 54-strong list will be bumped up to the “rest of world” (ROW) list from 4am on Monday 11 October, including Mexico, Thailand and the entirety of Africa, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced yesterday afternoon.
The countries left on the red list will be Colombia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
The Scottish government last night confirmed that the changes had been agreed on a four-nation basis, but its transport minister said the nation “will not hesitate to reintroduce restrictions” if the Covid situation deteriorates.
While Mr Shapps labelled the move a “major step forward”, some in the travel industry have called for greater clarification on what new post-arrival testing requirements will look like when the change takes effect.
A UK government source told the BBC ministers were aiming to replace the so-called “day two” PCR test on arrival with a cheaper lateral flow test by the half-term break, which for many schools in England falls in the last week of October. But they said the government was still working on a date for when the new testing rule would be introduced.
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Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live blog, where we’ll be following all the latest travel news.
Lucy Thackray8 October 2021 07:29
British Airways announce they will resume services to winter sun
British Airways has said that they will resume services and increase frequencies to a number of winter sun destinations that have been removed from the red list.
The airline will increase its services to Capetown and Johannesburg in South Africa; Mexico City and Cancun in Mexico; Sao Paulo in Brazil and Buenos Aires in Argentina.
The airline’s chief executive Sean Doyle said the changes to the government’s red list, which will come into force from next week, were like “light at the end of a very long tunnel.”
He explained: “Britain will benefit from this significant reduction in red list countries and now it’s time to turn our attention to eradicating testing for fully-vaccinated travellers to ensure we don’t lose our place on the global stage.”
Meanwhile, Charlie Cornish, boss of Manchester Airports Group – the organisation which owns Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports – said: “Removing so many countries from the red list gives people the most choice they have had since before the pandemic, which will help stimulate the recovery of the UK’s prized aviation sector.”
Eleanor Sly7 October 2021 21:34
Wales confirms it will implement Shapps’ travel changes
The Welsh government announced this evening that it too would implement new travel arrangements announced by transport secretary Grant Shapps.
Officials added that, although it was worried about the impact of travel on the virus in Wales, it was “not practical to develop its own border health policy in isolation from the other nations of the UK”.
A Welsh government statement said:
“We look to the UK government to provide reassurances that it will be maintaining consistent and robust surveillance systems that can detect dangerous variants early and that measures to relax restrictions can be swiftly reversed should the international position worsen.
“We are concerned about the cumulative impact of the risk being carried in relation to opening up travel particularly from higher risk countries.
“This includes the radical reduction in the number of red list countries and the suggestion the UK government is contemplating considerably relaxing the rules around quarantine from red list countries and introducing the use lateral flow tests for returning travellers.
“All of these measures, when taken together considerably increase the risk new variant being introduced into Wales and the UK.”
Sam Hancock7 October 2021 20:52
Which countries’ vaccines are recognised in the UK?
In mid-September, the UK government announced major changes to the country’s international travel and health rules – including its plans to formally recognise a number of vaccines from overseas countries.
Prior to late July, only UK-administered vaccines were officially recognised.
On 28 July, it was announced that the vaccine status of fully jabbed travellers from the US and European Union would also be recognised from 2 August onwards (provided they had received two doses of the same vaccine).
And in the latest update, a further 37 countries were added to the approved list, including India, South Africa and Turkey.
So which countries’ vaccine certificates are now recognised? Our deputy travel editor Lucy Thackray takes a look.
Sam Hancock7 October 2021 20:27
Scotland ‘not afraid’ to restore Covid restrictions if red list cull backfires
Scotland’s transport minister has said the nation “will not hesitate to reintroduce restrictions” if the Covid situation deteriorates, after it was announced countries including South Africa, Mexico and Thailand will be removed from the red list.
Travellers arriving from those destinations from 4am on Monday will no longer need to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £2,285 for solo travellers.
Just seven countries will remain on the red list: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
The changes were agreed on a four-nation basis, said the Scottish government, as UK transport secretary Grant Shapps announced the same changes for England. Scottish officials added details for the UK’s post-arrival testing regime were being finalised – and that Scotland would align with it.
Scottish transport minister Graeme Dey said:
“It’s important we continue to exercise caution which is why a red list of countries will be retained, carefully monitored and updated following a review at regular intervals.
“If evidence and circumstances change, we will not hesitate to reintroduce restrictions to protect public health in Scotland.
“But the steps we are seeing now pave the way for growth in the travel and tourism sector who we have listened very carefully to and engaged with widely on throughout this difficult period.”
Sam Hancock7 October 2021 19:59
Industry welcomes red list cull – but wants to know why ban dragged on
Following my post earlier (7.13pm), here’s our travel correspondent Simon Calder on what the industry thinks about ongoing red list restrictions – and why hotel quarantine is still in effect.
Sam Hancock7 October 2021 19:47
‘Major step forward’: Shapps praises travel update
In case you missed it earlier, here’s the clip of Grant Shapps announcing the change in travel advice.
“It’s a major step forward,” the transport secretary told Sky News before warning things “could change” should Covid worsen.
Sam Hancock7 October 2021 19:27
Industry bosses question why red list remains at all
Some expert commentary now.
Julia Simpson, CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said:
“There is no justification for a red list to remain in the UK. Other countries have realised that blanket country measures are no longer needed and instead assess on individual risk and whether travellers have been fully jabbed.
“While this is great news for countries such as South Africa which have been severely impacted by its red list status, welcoming all fully-vaccinated travellers, regardless of country of origin is key to restarting safe international travel.”
Sam Hancock7 October 2021 19:13
UK travellers will take a photo to verify their travel antigen tests – but no date given for PCR switch
The government has announced that UK travellers will verify their day two lateral flow tests by taking a photo, as part of today’s travel rules update.
But no date has been given for the change from PCR tests being required to lateral flow tests being allowed.
From the previous travel update on 17 September, the change was understood to be happening from “end of October”.
Today’s announcement confirmed a change “later this month”, saying: “passengers will be able to send a picture of their lateral flow test as a minimum requirement to verify test result accuracy and keep prices down once Day 2 tests switch to lateral flow later this month, followed by a free PCR if positive.”
Lucy Thackray7 October 2021 18:31
India’s CoviShield will be one of the vaccines recognised by the UK from next week
India is one of the countries whose vaccines will be recognised by the UK government from Monday, the Department for Transport has announced.
The Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca had previously not been approved in the UK.
The decision to not recognise India’s vaccines in the previous round of travel rule updates sparked outrage in India, and widespread condemnation of the new policy. India had warned the UK of “reciprocal actions” and said that the new travel policy was “discriminatory” in nature.
The news comes as it is announced that India will come off of the red list at 4am next Monday 11 October.
In response to today’s update, the British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, tweeted: “No quarantine for Indian travellers to UK fully vaccinated with Covishield or another UK-approved vaccine from 11 October. Thanks to Indian government for close cooperation over last month.”
Lucy Thackray7 October 2021 18:19