Welcome and timely changes to international travel restrictions announced
20 September 2021

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Welcome and timely changes to international travel restrictions announced

The UK government's announcement on Friday evening of a simplified system for international travel is both welcome and timely.

A straightforward red list and rest of the world 'go' list will replace the complex red/ amber/ green traffic light system; new countries including Turkey and Oman will come off the red list; and 17 new countries will be added to the quarantine free travel list for fully vaccinated adults and under 18s from Monday 4 October. These changes will occur in all four UK nations, while for arrivals in England, the testing requirements will also change in October.

'Reducing the number of red list countries, extending quarantine-free travel to 17 new countries and scrapping PCR testing will be a massive shot in the arm for the UK's beleaguered ELT industry. Now, we ask the government to consider scrapping PCR testing altogether for under-18s and the fully vaccinated, and to examine the feasibility of removing more countries from the red list.'

Jodie Gray, Chief Executive, English UK

 The main points of the announcement:

  • From Wednesday 22 September eight countries will move off the red list: Turkey, Oman, Pakistan, The Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Kenya.
  • From Monday 4 October the current traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list and simplified travel arrangements for everyone else.
  • Also from Monday 4 October the list of fully-vaccinated travellers who do not need to quarantine on arrival in England will be expanded to include those with a full course of the Oxford/ AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna or (single dose) Janssen vaccines from a relevant public health body in an additional 17 countries: Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. This is in addition to those fully-vaccinated under an approved programme in the US, EU/ EEA and UK, making for 50 countries in total. Note the Department for Transport have confirmed that under 18s will be treated as vaccinated adults if they are from the UK, or 50 other countries where vaccine status is recognised.
  • These fully-vaccinated travellers will not need to take a pre-departure test (PDT), a day 8 PCR test or quarantine for 10 days. They will continue to need to book a day 2 PCR test in advance of travel and complete a passenger locator form.
  • Those travelling from non-red list countries who do not meet the eligibility requirements for fully-vaccinated travellers will continue to need to quarantine for 10 days, take a pre-departure Covid-19 test and pre-book day 2 and day 8 PCR tests. They can still take a day 5 test-to-release test to shorten their quarantine period (England only).
  • The rules for arrivals from red list countries are unchanged.
  • F​​rom the end of October, eligible fully-vaccinated travellers (see above) will be able to replace their day 2 PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test. Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test at no extra cost. This PCR test will be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants of Covid-19.

> read the government's announcement on the new system for international travel

> read full details of the new rules for international travel

The government in Scotland has announced that eight countries will move off the red list as above. The end of the current traffic light system and its replacement with a single red list and simplified travel arrangements for everyone else will also take place from 4 October. The Scottish government has expressed concerns about the removal of the requirement for pre-departure tests and the use of lateral flow tests on day 2 from the end of October in England. It has not adopted this change at this stage.

> read the Scottish government's announcement in full

The government in Wales has announced that eight countries will move off the red list as above. It will consider the UK government's proposed changes to border health measures and has not yet decided its approach.

> read the Welsh government's statement on international travel changes

Northern Ireland:
The Northern Ireland Executive is adopting a similar approach to Scotland.

> read the announcement from the Northern Ireland Executive's Department of Health

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash.

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