UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced sweeping changes to travel restrictions, quarantine and testing for Covid-19. Shapps said the changes were made to make travel “easier” and to “cut costs”, as reported by The telegraph.
Since May 17, arrivals to England have followed a traffic light system, where countries were classified as green, amber or red. However, this system has today been overhauled to simplify the process with the following changes announced:
- Countries on the green and orange list will be classified as having the same risk levels as of Monday, October 4. This group, as reported by The Guardian, will be called the “OK for travel” list.
- The UK government is keeping its Red List, from which arrivals must enter a mandatory ten-day hotel quarantine, at a cost of up to £ 2,285 per person. However, eight countries are to be removed from the list of 62 people next Wednesday, September 22 at 4 a.m. – Turkey, Egypt, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya. The move is good news for long-haul winter sun operators outside the UK
- Vaccinated people will no longer need to take a pre-departure test if they come from a non-red country, nor will they need to take a PCR test on the second day of arrival, starting in October. Existing testing regulations have been particularly criticized for their onerous nature and for the additional cost they imply. It will now be possible to perform inexpensive lateral flow tests.
- Unvaccinated passengers will, however, be severely limited by the new travel policy. They will need to pass pre-departure tests on the second and eighth days of their arrival / return to the UK and will also need to be quarantined.
Stewart Wingate, Managing Director of Gatwick Airport in the UK, responded positively to the policy, saying ‘we also welcome the news that day 2 PCR tests will be replaced by faster lateral flow tests. and more affordable, which will allow us to start catching up with our competitors in Europe and the United States, where passenger numbers are already approaching pre-pandemic levels. Wingate, however, called on the government to also abolish the current passenger tracking form in order to remove travel constraints even further.
Andrew Crawley, chief commercial officer of American Express Global Business Travel, also welcomed the changes, but criticized why they would be implemented in October and not immediately. Crawley said that “waiting weeks to implement reforms means our economy will miss out on billions in revenue that the travel industry could generate, especially since this is usually one of the periods busiest for business trips “.