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Travel & Tourism Bodies Welcome UK Decision to Remove 47 Countries from ‘Red List’

Photo source: WTTC

Photo source: WTTC

Global travel and tourism bodies welcomed a decision on Thursday by the UK government to narrow down its “red list” of countries based on Covid-19 risk, saying it was in the right direction and would facilitate international travel.

The UK’s department for transport announced that as of 4am on Monday, 47 countries and territories would be removed from its red list, making it easier for more people to travel abroad to a larger number of countries.

Passengers returning to England from these destinations will no longer be required to self-isolate. 

The decision comes days after the UK put into force a new two-category set of international travel rules in efforts to simplify its formerly used “traffic light” system used to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Only seven countries – Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela – will remain on the list after October 11.

Photo source: Heathrow Airport

Photo source: Heathrow Airport

Meanwhile, proof of vaccination will be recognized from 37 new countries and territories. Eligible vaccinated passengers arriving from 37 “rest of world” countries only need to take a Day 2 test in England. These include India, South Africa and Turkey.

The UK’s Travel Association (ABTA) welcomed the news noting that it was “a sensible step forward”, facilitates travel, and makes travel abroad for the fully vaccinated a lot “easier, and cheaper”.

“The reduction of the red list to seven countries is a sensible step forward in further opening up international travel. These changes along with the simpler system for travel means now is the best time in a long time to book and travel on a foreign holiday,” said ABTA Chief Executive Mark Tanzer.

Tanzer went on however to request that the government “put their plans into place to replace Day 2 PCR tests with lateral flow in time for the October half-term in England” and to prioritize swift implementation”.

According to the new rules, passengers will be able to send a photo of their lateral flow test as a minimum requirement to verify test result accuracy and keep prices down once Day 2 tests switch to lateral flow later this month, followed by a free PCR if positive.

Unvaccinated passengers (or vaccinated with an unauthorized vaccine) returning from a non-red destination must still take a pre-departure test, a Day 2 and Day 8 test, and remain for 10 days in isolation.

“With half-term and winter sun around the corner, we’re making it easier for families and loved ones to reunite, by significantly cutting the number of destinations on the red list, thanks in part to the increased vaccination efforts around the globe,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

“Restoring people’s confidence in travel is key to rebuilding our economy and leveling up this country. With less restrictions and more people traveling, we can all continue to move safely forward together along our pathway to recovery,” he added.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) welcomed the decision noting that there was no justification for the red list to remain active.

“There is no justification for a red list to remain in the UK. Other countries have realized that blanket country measures are no longer needed and instead assess on individual risk and whether travelers have been fully jabbed,” said WTTC President & CEO Julia Simpson.

“Welcoming all fully-vaccinated travelers, regardless of country of origin is key to restarting safe international travel,” she said.

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