UK travel update: England changes won't help UAE fully vaccinated travellers

© Hollie Adams A traveller exits through the international arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. Getty Images

The UK on Friday confirmed it was overhauling its Covid travel rules for England and abolishing its traffic light system for international travel from October 4, allowing travellers from 17 new countries and territories to enter under rules for the fully vaccinated.

James Cleverly, a Foreign Office minister, acknowledged that the UK was working with the UAE to resolve the status of travellers as the UK changes come into effect in early October.

“We are finalising our arrangements with the UAE to include their nationals and residents in our plans to open up to the fully vaccinated from other countries from 4 October,” he wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Delighted that international travel is opening up.

We are finalising arrangements with UAE to include their nationals and residents in our plans to open up to the fully vaccinated from other countries from 4 October

— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) September 17, 2021

The post from Mr Cleverly on Friday was welcomed by Mansoor Abulhoul, the UAE ambassador to London.

While the formal amber category has been ditched, travellers coming from countries or territories not under the fully vaccinated scheme must still self-isolate at home for 10 days, or less if they use the Test to Release initiative.

In the new system, the green and amber lists will be jettisoned, leaving only a single red list in their place – a move broadly welcomed by the beleaguered UK travel industry.

In the latest batch of changes before its abolition, eight countries including Turkey were removed from England’s red list.

The system is less straightforward than it first appears, however, as only fully vaccinated travellers who received shots from an approved list of countries will qualify to travel under the UK’s new rules.

Which countries will be on the UK’s approved vaccine provider list?

Though the amber list will be nominally abolished from October 4, it will remain in all but name for the countries not on an approved list – and travellers from the UAE will have to follow the rules that apply to unvaccinated travellers.

Travellers who have a valid vaccination certificate from 17 countries and territories will be treated as if they had been vaccinated in the UK. People who are fully vaccinated will no longer need a pre-departure test before returning from non-red list destinations.

And from the end of October, they will be able to replace the day two PCR test with a cheaper, lateral flow test.

In contrast, unvaccinated passengers from non-red list countries and territories will have to take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on days two and eight after returning.

The announcement stated that the vaccines approved for entry to the UK are the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen.

The countries and territories approved to administer them outside of Europe by a relevant public health body from October 4 are: Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

If a fully vaccinated traveller from these countries or territories received mixed does of the approved vaccines, that is deemed permissible.

England travel rules from October 4 from red-list countries

If a country is on the red list, then the 10-day hotel quarantine, at a cost of £2,285 per person, still applies. This includes two Covid tests to be taken before day two and on or after day eight.

Travellers must also take a pre-departure Covid test at least three days before travel and a passenger locator form must be filled in at least 48 hours before travel.

England travel rules from October 4 for the fully vaccinated

Fully vaccinated travellers from countries on an approved vaccine list travelling from non red-list countries 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.

They must fill out a passenger locator form in the 48 hours before arriving in England.

They do not need to take a pre-departure test, take a day eight Covid test, or quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 days upon arrival in England.

They also must be able to prove they have been fully vaccinated for 14 days with either a digital or paper-based document displaying, at a minimum, their forename and surname; date of birth; vaccine brand and manufacturer; date of vaccination for every dose; country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer.

If the document does not display this information, then they must follow rules for non-vaccinated travellers or risk being denied the right to board their flight.

Fully vaccinated travellers from the US will need to prove they are US residents.

England travel rules from October 4 for the non-vaccinated

For those who are unvaccinated or do not qualify under the fully vaccinated rules, a pre-departure test must be taken three days before travel to England.

They must also book and pay for day two and day eight tests to be taken after arrival in England and a passenger locator form must be filled in within 48 hours before travel.

After arrival in England, they must quarantine at home or in the place they are staying for 10 days and take the pre-booked Covid tests before day two and on or after day eight.

If either of these tests are positive, then they will need to take a confirmatory PCR test at no additional cost.

If they test negative, they may be able to end quarantine early through the Test to Release scheme.

UK travel industry welcomes changes

England’s new travel rules will greatly reduce the costs currently associated with international travel and they were welcomed on Friday by the travel industry which has long complained they 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.

His approval came with a caveat, though, and 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.”

The reform comes after strong disquiet among the public and the travel industry over rules that enforced the taking of PCR laboratory tests, making summer holidays prohibitively expensive for many families.

“Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system,” added 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.”

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