The new rules announcement will likely see more holiday bookings, with countries listed as either ‘red’ or ‘OK’
The UK government has scrapped its controversial ‘traffic light’ system for a simpler system to come into force from October 4. There are now two lists: ‘red’ and ‘OK’, and fully-vaccinated travelers arriving from a non-red country will not be required to quarantine.
From 22 Sept, eight countries will be removed from the red list, including Turkey.
From 4 Oct, we will switch to a simplified travel list and pre-departure tests will be scrapped for eligible fully vaccinated passengers.
— Department for Transport (@transportgovuk) September 17, 2021
The ruling means that fully vaccinated travelers returning from places such as Turkey, Egypt, and the Maldives won’t have to quarantine, and PCR tests before departure from those countries will no longer be needed. Upon returning to the UK, travelers will still have to take a test within two days, but this would now be in the form of the cheaper lateral flow test. A passenger locator form will still be required.
Less bureaucracy, more certainty
Announcing the changes, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that the new rules would be in place “at least until the new year”.
“The purpose is to make it easier to travel without the bureaucracy, without so many tests, and with a greater level of certainty now that we’ve got so many people vaccinated,” he said.
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
Though travel to the UK differs depending on the country, with Scotland having been more wary in its travel rules throughout the pandemic, the devolved nations may well choose to follow England’s lead, with Wales following England in removing countries from its red list. It would “carefully consider” the proposed changes on testing but said they are “not without risk”.
Scotland also agreed to simplify its traffic light system but ruled out removing the requirement for PCR tests, due to “significant concerns at the impact on public health”.
“A shot in the arm”
The simplified measures have been welcomed by some MPs and travel groups, but some parties have voiced frustration at the fact that travelers will still need to take a test upon arriving in the UK.
Willie Walsh, the former British Airways boss who now heads the International Air Transport Association trade group, said that, while the changes were a welcome step, the entire “wasteful and ludicrously expensive” system of tests for fully vaccinated travelers should be abandoned altogether.
Still, the move seems to be a step in the right direction. Airlines UK said it was a “shot in the arm” that “moves us much closer to the reopening of UK aviation”.
Chief executive of Gatwick Airport Stewart Wingate said that customers can “book with more confidence in the months before Christmas and beyond” and added there was “significant pent-up demand for travel”.
Pushing for further reviews and ongoing assessment of the system, Johan Lundgren, the chief executive of EasyJet, said he welcomed the changes, but added: “Since 1 July there has been no testing at all for vaccinated travelers within the rest of Europe, and this is why the UK will continue to fall further behind the rest of Europe if this remains.”
High demand for cheap breaks with Kiwi.com
Indeed, the fact that travel in mainland Europe is becoming easier is one of the reasons for the surge in demand for half-term travel. Short city breaks to the continent or a final chance to get some pre-winter sun have tempted UK citizens to search for last-minute deals, and demand is higher than it’s been for a long time.
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