The UK said on Friday it would simplify its restrictions on international travel and no longer require coronavirus testing before traveling to England for those vaccinated from low-risk countries.
The announcement was made by Transport Minister Grant Shapps who said that from October 4, the traffic light that classified countries according to three risk categories will be abolished and that only a list of countries assigned to a red zone, for which travel restrictions will be much stricter.
There will no longer be an amber category, which included Spain, so travelers who have had their two vaccines will no longer have to test negative for COVID-19.
The UK government has said that with these measures it aims to “reduce the cost of travel” while continuing to protect public health. The Minister of Transport said that a “simpler” system will now be put in place for the traveler.
On his Twitter account, he added: “Later, I will establish measures to simplify international travel to reduce costs, take advantage of higher levels of immunization and protect us all. “
TRAVEL UPDATE🔊: We make testing easier for travel, may replace day 2 PCR test with cheaper lateral flow.
– MP Rt Hon Grant Shapps (@grantshapps) September 17, 2021
“The change will take effect on October 4, with a view to also changing the post-arrival protocols, so that the mandatory two-day PCR test can in the future be replaced by the much cheaper lateral flow antigen test,” Schapps said.
Spain, France and Italy are now classified as low risk countries
European states like Spain, France, Italy and Portugal, currently on the amber list, will be classified as low risk countries.
Reducing restrictions is a key element needed to dispel the main uncertainty facing hoteliers in the final months of the year, which focuses on the need to kick-start international tourism. The UK is the main source of international tourism for the province, accounting for 30% of all airport arrivals and a similar proportion in the share of hotel activity.
British authorities have also agreed to withdraw eight countries from the “red” group at maximum risk from Tuesday, including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives, according to the minister.
For countries currently marked in red, the UK has set up a quarantine and testing system that costs more than 2,200 pounds (nearly 2,700 euros per person).
Latin American states, such as Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, will continue in this red category for the time being. Travelers who have stayed in these countries during the ten days preceding their departure will only be able to enter England if they have British nationality or a UK residence permit.
One of the first major travel companies to respond to Friday afternoon’s announcement was Jet2holidays, which reported an increase in bookings following the update.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2holidays, said: “The traffic light system has been confusing and totally inadequate from day one. We welcome a new approach that is easy for everyone to understand and provides certainty. “
“There has been an immediate and massive increase in package holiday bookings as a result of this good news for holidaymakers and independent travel agents in England. We expect the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to update their advice as well and we look forward to that. “