UK’s ‘traffic light’ international travel list announced

UK’s ‘traffic light’ international travel list announced

From 17th May, people can once again travel abroad for ‘non essential reasons’, including business, holidays and leisure.

The ‘traffic light system’, which categorises countries based on risk alongside the restrictions required for travel, has been announced on Friday 7th May 2021.

Click here to see a full list of countries that are on the green, amber and red lists. The government strongly advises against traveling to red countries.

Assessments are based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a country’s population that has been vaccinated, rates of infection, emerging new variants, and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.

Testing remains an essential part of protecting public health as restrictions begin to ease – with all arrivals who are not exempt required to book a pre-departure, day 2 and day 8 test before travelling.

Arrivals travelling from ‘red list’ countries should book a quarantine package before departure, and arrivals from ‘amber’ and ‘green’ countries will be required to book test packages before travelling from one of the government’s approved list of providers.

How will the UK Covid passport work?

Countries will decide whether they require proof of COVID vaccination for entry, and it is the traveller’s responsibility to check individual requirements. If needed, people in England who have both vaccine doses will be able to demonstrate their COVID vaccination status via the NHS app from 17 May.

Those without access to the app can request a letter from the NHS proving their vaccination status by calling 119, from 17 May. Test results will not be stated in the app and the process for booking and presenting test results for travel remains unchanged.

What are the rules for each colour?

Green: arrivals will need to take a pre-departure test as well as a PCR test on or before day 2 of their arrival back into the UK – but will not need to quarantine on return (unless they receive a positive result) or take any additional tests.

Amber: arrivals will need to quarantine for a period of 10 days and take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 with the option for Test to Release on day 5 to end self-isolation early.

Red: arrivals will be subject to restrictions currently in place for ‘red list’ countries which include a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing and PCR testing on day 2 and 8.

How often will the list change? 

The list is expected to change every three weeks. Assuming the government sticks to this plan, the first three key dates are 28 May, 18 June and 9 July but they may vary. Urgent changes, likely to be placing a country in a stricter category, will be made at any time.

It is not clear how quickly any change decisions will come into effect, but if a country is placed on the “green watchlist” it is at risk of being moved to amber in the next reshuffle.

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