Red List

Travel Red List Scrapped

Fully vaccinated travellers entering the U.K. from the remaining seven countries on the ‘Red List’ will not have to self-isolate from 4am on Monday but will need to take lateral flow tests. Unfortunately, the Government has left the door open to bring back the policy. The Telegraph has more.

The Red List was effectively scrapped on Thursday but hotel quarantine will remain as a threat until at least the New Year.

All seven countries left on the Red List will be removed from Monday at 4am, which means passengers will no longer be required to quarantine in a U.K. hotel at a cost of £2,285 per person.

Fully jabbed travellers from the seven – Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Haiti and the Dominican Republic – will only have to take a lateral flow test on their arrival in the U.K. without having to self-isolate.

Ministers have, however, agreed to retain “several hundred” rooms in “quarantine” hotels in case restrictions have to be reimposed if a new variant emerges or there is a resurgence of Covid.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said: “We will keep the Red List category in place as a precautionary measure to protect public health and are prepared to add countries and territories back if needed, as the UK’s first line of defence.”

Britain is one of the last countries in the world to have hotel quarantine with even Australia, pioneers of the policy, having dropped it.

Ministers are now expected to review it in the New Year and are likely to replace it with home quarantine for travellers from “high risk” countries.

Fewer than one in 120 travellers returning from Red List countries are testing positive for Covid with none having anything other than the dominant Delta variant, which has squeezed out other strains. Since the policy was launched in February, more than 200,000 passengers have been quarantined in a hotel.

Worth reading in full.

Just Seven Countries Left on Government’s ‘Red List’

47 countries have been removed from the Government’s ‘Red List’ in what has been described as one of the biggest reopenings of overseas travel since the pandemic began. The Telegraph has the story.

Only seven countries will remain on the list which requires travellers to be quarantined in a hotel on their return to the U.K. at a cost of £2,285 per person.

Ministers also abandoned plans to force holidaymakers to video themselves taking tests after a backlash from the travel industry, which argued that it would be costly and a logistical nightmare for families.

The Government is confident that the more expensive PCR tests will be scrapped in time for October half term, with families allowed to use cheaper lateral flow tests when they return to the U.K.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said: “With half-term and winter sun around the corner, we’re making it easier for families and loved ones to reunite, by significantly cutting the number of destinations on the Red List, thanks in part to the increased vaccination efforts around the globe.”

Winter sun destinations including Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, Seychelles, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Brazil and Bali in Indonesia will be removed from the Red List at 4am on Monday, as will popular safari resorts in Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia.

The seven countries remaining on the Red List are Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Haiti, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

Nine of the 47 countries, including Argentina and Uruguay, remain closed to Britons unless they have exceptional reasons to travel to them. There are also growing fears the U.S. will maintain its ban on British holidaymakers until Thanksgiving at the end of November.

Mr. Shapps succeeded in killing off Department of Health proposals for fully jabbed travellers to video themselves taking lateral flow tests while supervised by a health adviser from a private firm.

Holidaymakers will now only be required to send a picture of their test kit result, possibly with ID such as a passport.

Worth reading in full.

New Overseas Travel System Comes into Force This Week

The ‘traffic light’ system for overseas travel has been replaced by a two-tiered system containing the (significantly reduced) ‘Red List’ and, in replacement of the ‘Green’ and ‘Amber’ categories, a ‘rest of the world’ list.

The change will only benefit those who have been fully vaccinated, with pre-departure tests no longer required for returning vaccinated travellers from former Amber countries (although they’ll still have to take a day two PCR test until the end of the month). Those who haven’t been double jabbed, by contrast, will still need to take pre-departure tests before returning to the U.K., whether a country is on the ‘Red List’ or not, PCR tests on day two and day eight once back in England, and self-isolate for 10 days. The Guardian has the story.

From 4am on October 4th, there will no longer be a requirement for fully vaccinated travellers to take a test in the three days before their return from a non-Red List country.

Also, from the end of October, they will no longer be required to take a PCR test on day two of their arrival in England or Scotland – instead they will need to take a lateral flow test. If the lateral flow test is positive, they will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test at no additional cost.

For those who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated, there are currently no changes to the testing or quarantine requirements. This means if they arrive in the U.K. from any non-Red List country, they will still need to take a pre-departure test, a PCR test on day two and day eight, and quarantine at home for 10 days. If they are arriving in England, they still have the option to use the test-to-release scheme on day five.

Requirements for arrivals in the U.K. from Red List countries remain the same: a pre-departure test and the pre-booking of a mandatory 11-night quarantine hotel package, which will include two PCR tests, taken on day two and day eight, whatever your vaccination status.

All travellers, regardless of their vaccination status and the country they are travelling from, will also still need to complete a passenger locator form any time in the 48 hours before they arrive in the U.K.

The aim of the changes, according to the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, is to simplify rules and decrease the burden on people travelling. The new regime is expected to be fully in place in time for people returning from October half-term holidays in England.

The new rules announced apply to England. The devolved administrations are in charge of their own travel rules, but they have typically been mirroring Westminster’s approach.

Worth reading in full.

More than 40 Countries Could Be Removed from ‘Red List’ This Week

The Prime Minister is reportedly planning to remove up to 45 countries from the ‘Red List’ – including Mexico, Thailand and Brazil – this week, in time for the October half term. This move comes as the Government finally says it doesn’t want its overseas travel policy to be “unnecessarily restricted”. The Sunday Telegraph has the story.

The Telegraph understands that the 54 countries on the Government’s Red List will be slashed to as few as nine this week – with South Africa, Brazil and Mexico all expected to be opened up to quarantine-free travel in time for the October half-term break.

Cape Verde and Indonesia are also due to be struck off the Red List – which requires travellers to quarantine in designated hotels. 

Thailand could also become a quarantine-free destination, but was said to be a “more marginal call”.

The changes, which will allow fully vaccinated travellers to visit each of the countries without having to self-isolate on their return, are expected to be announced on Thursday following a review of the current list.

The move would lead to a spike in bookings by business travellers and holidaymakers, as it significantly opens up the number of destinations offering winter sun.

The planned easing of restrictions marks a dramatic shift in the Government’s approach to foreign travel following months of protests by industry bodies and Conservative backbenchers over the restrictions. 

In a particularly ferocious attack, former Prime Minister Theresa May warned in the summer that Britain was “falling behind the rest of Europe in our decisions to open up”.

Covid hospitalisation rates have confounded modelling which suggested that daily admissions could number 7,000 this month, when in fact they appear to have plateaued at 600.

The move comes as Mr. Johnson prepares to reboot the Conservatives’ domestic agenda in the wake of the devastating impact of Covid and the Government’s restrictions. …

A Whitehall source said: “We are expecting sharp reductions in the Red List. It could be as few as nine countries left on the list.”

The source said that ministers still wanted to keep restrictions in place to guard against Covid variants, but that the Government wanted to avoid a travel policy that “is unnecessarily restricted”.  

“Targeted quarantine will remain, but in fewer places,” the source said. A second source confirmed that the red list was due to be cut back “substantially”.

Worth reading in full.

Pressure Grows on Government to Ditch Quarantine Policy

On Saturday, the Irish Government announced that incoming travellers from its list of ‘designated states’ (Ireland’s ‘Red List’) would no longer have to quarantine for two weeks, creating pressure on Westminster to follow suit. The Telegraph has more.

Hotel quarantine could face the axe amid growing pressure on the Government to follow Ireland’s decision to ditch the policy.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is understood to back the move which would end the requirement for travellers from Red List countries to self-isolate in Government-approved hotels at a cost of up to £2,285 per person.

The travel industry is also pressing for the policy to be ditched following Ireland’s announcement on Saturday that it was removing the final six countries from its red list and freeing the last 50 travellers from the self-isolation in hotels from Sunday.

“We can’t forget that we’re still an outlier on arrivals testing and hotel quarantine, and the Irish decision should hopefully embolden ministers to move to home quarantine as quickly as possible for Red List passengers,” said a senior travel industry source.

“Hotel quarantine was very much a policy of its time but things have moved on.”

Hotel quarantine was introduced at the start of the year amid growing concern at the emergence of variants that it was feared could undermine the effectiveness of the vaccine roll-out.

However, since then the variants of most concern – such as the beta strain that emerged in South Africa – have been marginalised by the dominant Delta variant, that originated in India and is now the most common in the U.K. as well as most other countries.

The Irish Government’s decision was made on the advice of its Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan on the basis that the dominance of the Delta variant meant hotel quarantine was no longer need to contain other variants of concern.

U.K. has more countries on its Red List than any other E.U. nations at 54 and is one of the few countries still to have hotel quarantine alongside Australia and New Zealand, both of which have far lower rates of vaccination than the U.K.

Worth reading in full.

Travellers to Mexico Discover it’s been ‘Red Listed’ in Mid-Air

MailOnline has a harrowing story about a woman who discovered Mexico has been placed on the red list in mid-air as she was flying to Mexico City yesterday. The only way for her to avoid quarantining for 10 days on her return – and the £1,750 cost of doing so – would be to catch the next flight home. Unfortunately, the cheapest one before Sunday, when Mexico goes on the red list, is £6,878.

Furious British holidaymakers flying to Mexico have revealed how they found out that the country was being moved onto the red list mid-air.

From 4am on Sunday, people returning to the UK from Mexico will have to stay in isolation in a hotel for 10 days.

However, the Government has been slammed for giving only three days’ notice of the change, with the only direct flight from Mexico City to London before Sunday on sale for a staggering £6,878.

Travel agency CEO Paul Charles tweeted after the announcement: “Pity poor #UK travellers in #Mexico – some 5/6,000 who have to somehow get back before hotel quarantine kicks in on Sunday. Certainly not enough seat capacity.”

And holidaymakers have revealed how they found out about Mexico going red at the very last minute.

Claire, 30, from south London, said: “I had access to the Wifi so I found out in mid air.

“I just wanted to grab the tannoy and tell everyone because I could see all these families looking forward to their holiday and it was obvious they didn’t know.

“It’s crazy the lack of notice. I had no inkling Mexico was about to go on the red list.”

Another tweeted: “Landing in Mexico to find out it’s been added to the red list whilst I was up in the air, has got to be one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced.”

Father-of-two David Hing, 40, arrived in Mexico with his wife and children aged four and seven on July 31. They were supposed to stay until August 21 – five days before the travel list is looked at again.

Mr Hing told MailOnline: “We knew the risks and while at the moment it seems like a bad dream and is very stressful and I’ve been up all night looking at alternative options, we are just going to try to enjoy the holiday.

“It broke my heart when my two little ones said they wanted to stay on holiday and would lend us money if we needed it.

“The notice period doesn’t really give long enough to make changes especially when it’s hard to get through and talk to anyone at the airlines.

“The images of the food and hotels do not seem like they are worth the cost so that’s why we are going to try and fly back somewhere else first. I feel sorry for the people who were already on the flight from the U.K. and hope they can make alternative arrangements.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: No holiday is safe, according to MailOnline. Tens of thousands of people started making arrangements to go to France today, after its removal from the ‘amber-plus’ list, but Grant Shapps has warned it could go back on the red list in just three weeks.