The United Kingdom's Departments for Transport and of Health and Social Care Thursday issued a joint press release announcing that the seven countries still on the travel red list, all of them from Latin America, would be removed from it shortly.
Effective Nov. 1, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela will be moved up to the group of other nations from where travelers returning to England no longer need to go through a hotel quarantine.
“The red list and quarantine hotel policy remains in place and will continue to act as a crucial line of defence against the importation of variants of concern (VOC),” the statement said. “We will review the red list every 3 weeks and will impose restrictions should there be a need to do so to protect public health,” it went on.
The authorities also pointed out “Delta is now the dominant [coronavirus] variant in most countries around the world. This means the risk of known variants entering the UK has reduced and the government can confidently remove these 7 destinations from the red list, with decisions informed by UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) assessment. The data for all countries and territories will be kept under review, including the emergence of new variants, and the government will not hesitate to take action where the epidemiological picture changes.”
Starting Monday, eligible travelers with appropriate proof of vaccination from over 30 further countries and territories, including Argentina, Tanzania and Cambodia, will also qualify under the fully vaccinated rules for travel to the UK. This brings the total number of countries and territories covered by the inbound vaccination policy to over 135.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that “this is another step in the right direction for international travel with more good news today for passengers, businesses and the travel sector. We’re continuing to make great progress as we recover from the pandemic and today is another example of how far we have come.”
“Whether it’s reuniting family members or making it easier for businesses to trade, the success of the vaccine rollout both at home and abroad has allowed us to reach this milestone. However, we must not be complacent and remain ready to spring into action and defend our hard-won gains if needed,” he added.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid pointed out he was “glad we are able to reduce the travel list even further, giving a huge boost to businesses, families and friends wanting to travel,” although “the red list and quarantine remain vital in protecting our borders.”
“We are keeping a small number of quarantine rooms on standby and will not hesitate to take swift action by adding countries to the red list if the risk increases again,” Javid went on.
With the number of destinations on the red list decreasing over the past few months, the government has reduced the amount of quarantine hotel rooms it requires, to reflect lower demand from passengers and deliver better value for the taxpayer. A number of hotel rooms remain on standby should the government need to quickly respond to an increased risk from another country or territory and reintroduce Managed Quarantine Service for red list passengers.
Government scientists will continue to closely monitor variants of concern in order to ensure the UK’s approach remains proportionate. The government will continue to maintain surveillance through testing.
Eligible fully vaccinated passengers and most under 18s arriving into England from non-red list countries have since 24 October been able to use a cheaper lateral flow test post arrival, with a free confirmatory PCR test if they receive a positive result. Such passengers arriving into Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will from 31 October also be able to choose to take a lateral flow test instead of a PCR test.
All arrivals will still need to fill in a passenger locator form ahead of travel. Travelers should continue to check GOV.UK travel guidance including Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice before, during and after travel to keep up to date with entry requirements.
Passengers are encouraged to also continue to carefully check booking conditions prior to buying tickets.