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U.K. Travel Rules Ease as Amber List Scrapped

The traffic light system, so long a source of controversy for tourists and the travel industry, has been scrapped in a major overhaul of Covid restrictions

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Divya Dhadd
Divya Dhadd
Journalist

UNITED KINGDOM: With new simplified travel rules aimed at making travel to the U.K. “easier and cheaper”, a single red list has replaced the traffic light system, hence scrapping the green and amber lists.

Most fully vaccinated travellers arriving from non-red list countries will no longer have to take a test before setting off for the U.K.

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Previously, passengers arriving in the U.K. have had to take a pre-departure antigen (lateral flow) test in the three days before departure.

However, from 4am on Monday 4 October this requirement has been scrapped for vaccinated U.K. nationals for countries on the new list of low-risk destinations, which merges the countries previously on the green and amber lists.

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The only Covid requirement for fully vaccinated arrivals which remains is a single test taken two days after the arrival.

However, the new regulations are more stringent for travellers who haven’t had the Covid vaccine now that the green list and amber list have been scrapped.

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Also Read: COVID-19: UK Doubts Standard of Vaccine Administered in Nigeria

Pre-departure testing will still be required for those coming from red list destinations including Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines and South Africa, and they must still pay to quarantine in a hotel for 10 days. So regardless of vaccination status, the rules for U.K. arrivals from red list countries remain unchanged from 4 October. 

Testing rules are also being eased for people travelling from non-red list destinations who have been vaccinated in the U.K., the EU, the U.S., or any of 18 other recognised countries that have been added to the list of countries from which the U.K. government recognises vaccine passports.

Anyone under 18 who is resident in those countries can also travel to the U.K. without testing.

These groups were already able to avoid self-isolating on their arrival back in the U.K.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We are accelerating towards a future where travel continues to reopen safely and remains open for good, and today’s rule changes are good news for families, businesses and the travel sector.

“Our priority remains to protect public health but, with more than eight in 10 people now fully vaccinated, we are able to take these steps to lower the cost of testing and help the sector to continue in its recovery.”

Some airlines have accused the government of being too slow to relax and simplify the rules for international travel.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, a trade body representing U.K. carriers, said things were moving in the right direction.

“The removal of these restrictions will make it easier and cheaper for people to travel,” said Alderslade.

“There is still much to do though. This is not job done, and ministers need to keep in mind that we remain an outlier on arrivals testing for vaccinated passengers.

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