UK scrapping traffic lights system and PCR tests for fully vaccinated travellers
Under the UK Government's plans for overhauling international travel, the current traffic light system of red, amber, and green countries will be scrapped, instead, there will simply be a red list and all other countries will be considered "clear" for travel from October 4th. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said this afternoon, that the changes make for a "simpler, more straightforward travel system".
When making the announcement Shapps said: "The new system will have less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry. Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy, and with over 44 million people fully vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape."
In the meantime, eight destinations have been removed from the red list:
- The Maldives
- Sri Lanka
This means that fully vaccinated people returning from these countries will not need to quarantine from 4am on September 22nd when they return to the UK, although PCR tests are still required for now. No countries have been added to the green list as the new overhaul means the amber list is being scrapped in favour of a 'clear' list and a 'red' list.
PCR and pre-departure tests to be scrapped for the fully vaccinated:
The Transport Secretary also confirmed that PCR tests for travel are to be replaced by lateral flow tests for fully vaccinated people, and that double-jabbed people booking trips abroad will no longer have to pay for costly PCR tests from October 4th, or will they need to take pre-departure tests when returning home.
The travel industry has been calling for PCR testing to be scrapped for months, saying it is creating added costs for holidaymakers and putting many off travelling. Although testing will not be scrapped altogether, lateral flow tests are much cheaper and quicker.
Unvaccinated people will still have to take PCR tests:
An important point for anyone hoping to travel abroad from the UK: if you've not had a vaccine, you will still have to get a PCR test on your return. It's not yet clear whether these tests will still need to be taken privately or if they will be available through the NHS, as with lateral flow tests.