Turkey, Egypt and Pakistan are among the eight countries set to be removed from the UK’s red list for travellers from abroad, the government announced on Friday.
Restrictions will also be lifted from September 22 on the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya.
The announcement was made by UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in a series of tweets. He confirmed that from October 4 the UK’s Covid-19 travel rules will be overhauled and its traffic light system replaced with a single red list, mandating hotel quarantine, alongside rules on vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers from other countries.
The government said the current amber list covering travel from much of the world would be scrapped – reflecting high levels of vaccination against Covid-19 by other nations.
This reform comes after disquiet among the public and travel industry over complicated rules that enforced PCR tests, making summer holidays prohibitively expensive for many people.
“Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system,” Mr Shapps said.
“One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry.”
Only the red list will remain – requiring travellers to quarantine in government-approved hotels if they are arriving from Covid hotspots.
We’ll also be introducing a new simplified system for international travel from Mon 4 Oct 🌐, replacing the current approach with a single red list 🔴 and simplified measures for the rest of the world – striking the right balance to manage the public health risk as No.1 priority.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) September 17, 2021
If a country is on the red list, then the 10-day hotel quarantine at a cost of £2,285 ($3,140) per person still applies.
However, fully vaccinated travellers from countries not on the red list will be no longer need to take a PCR test before they travel, and only need to take a lateral flow test on or before the second day of their return. Those not certified as fully vaccinated still need to isolate at home for 10 days or take tests for earlier release.
The move will greatly reduce the costs currently associated with international travel and was welcomed by the travel industry which has long complained the Covid rules are too burdensome and expensive.
“Moving from the established three traffic light system to a red list, and a two-tier entry regime for vaccinated or non-vaccinated passengers, brings greater clarity to entry requirements and recognises the vaccination status of an additional 17 countries,” said Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives UK.
But he said the new system will only be effective and non-discriminatory “when fully vaccinated status is recognised for all travellers to the UK”.
“Testing requirements for many remains costly and excessive, and a significant number of inbound markets for the UK will still remain unfairly treated.”Internet Explorer Channel Network