How does the covid travel traffic light system now work without amber?
Travelers have had cause to celebrate recently as new UK travel rules came into force in early October. This has made it easier and cheaper for holidaymakers to book trips abroad.
The travel traffic light system that came into force after the UK lifted its nationwide travel ban, has received a drastic facelift that includes removing the amber list.
The system originally categorized countries according to their Covid-19 risk. However, in early October 2021, the government scrapped the amber and green lists in favor of a simpler system. This comprised of red and non-red list countries. The amber and green list are now combined, clearly showing the countries that are considered safe to visit.
What happened to the amber travel list?
When the traffic light system was introduced in May 2021, it included a list of red, amber, and green countries. Each color represented different rules around testing and quarantining.
The most recent rules for passengers traveling from a country on the amber list required one pre-travel Covid-19 test and quarantine at home for ten days, after returning to the UK.
PCR tests were also required on day two and day eight of quarantine. In July, these rules changed to allow travelers who have received two Covid vaccinations, to skip self-isolation and testing on day eight when coming back from an amber list country. However, since 4 October 2021, the amber list has been scrapped in favor of a new simplified system.
How do the changes affect the traffic light system?
Now that the amber and green lists are scrapped, it leaves just a single red list of high-risk countries. All countries not on the red list are considered low-risk destinations and treated the same as green list countries.
Travellers who are double-vaccinated are no longer required to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test before arriving in England. However, people who are not fully vaccinated must continue to take a pre-departure and a PCR test on day two and day eight. They also need to self-isolate at home for ten days.
Travellers can use the Test to Release scheme from day five to reduce their quarantine time.
What are the rules for returning to the UK from a country on the red list?
Forty-seven countries have been removed from the red list. These include Thailand, India, South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico, leaving just seven countries. They are:
- Dominican Republic
Only Irish or British nationals, or people with UK residence rights, can travel to the UK from red list countries.
On their return to the UK, travellers must quarantine in an approved hotel for ten days and 11 nights, which they must book before they travel. Travellers must also pass a test before departure, and on the second and eighth days of their quarantine. These tests can be requested through Medicspot.
If your lateral flow test is positive on either day two or day eight, you must take a PCR test and self-isolate until you receive your result. If the PCR test is positive, you should isolate for ten full days, with the day you took your lateral flow test being day 0. If any of your tests provide an inconclusive result, then you should repeat the test straight away.
Further travel updates
It’s expected that the UK’s travel rules will be reviewed every week, with the next announcement expected around 28 October 2021. Given that travel rules in the UK and abroad can change quickly, check your destination country’s rules before booking your next trip.
Make sure that your chosen destination allows UK residents to enter. Some countries, such as the USA and Canada, don’t currently permit entry to Brits (this is expected to change in November). Meanwhile, other countries like Malta, require UK residents to present an NHS Covid Pass as evidence they are fully vaccinated.
With the amber list scrapped and pre-departure tests no longer required for those vaccinated, it’s hoped that the new simplified travel rules will make it easier and cheaper for people to travel abroad.