UK’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has announced a simplified system for international travel, in light of the ongoing domestic vaccine rollout, providing greater stability for industry and passengers.
Per the new system, the current traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries and territories. This is very crucial as it aims to protect public health, and simplify travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world from Monday 4th October, 2021 at 4am.
To facilitate these processes, testing requirements will also be reduced for eligible fully vaccinated travelers, who no longer need to take a pre-departure test when traveling to England.
In a statement released by the UK government today, September 17, 2021, the government indicated that from the end of October 2021, eligible fully vaccinated passengers will be able to replace their day 2 test with a cheaper lateral flow test. This condition also goes for those with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries.
According to Shapps, this is supposed to reduce the cost of tests on arrival into England. The government wants to introduce this by the end of October, aiming to have it in place for when people return from half-term breaks.
Furthermore, anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveler. This would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants, he noted.
Accordingly, testing for unvaccinated passengers from non-red countries will include pre-departure tests, day 2 and day 8 PCR tests. Test to release remains an option to reduce self-isolation period.
England welcomes fully vaccinated travellers
That said, from October 4, 2021, England will welcome fully vaccinated travellers from a host of new countries. These include 17 countries and territories such as Japan and Singapore, following the success of an existing pilot with the US and Europe.
Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary commented:
“Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with 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 more than 8 in 10 adults vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape.”Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary
Before the move to the new two-tiered system, after conducting the final traffic light review, several other countries will be taken off the red list namely; Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya. These proposed changes will take effect at 4am on Wednesday 22 September, 2021.
Commenting on this new development, Sajid Javid, Health and Social Care Secretary
“Today we have simplified the travel rules to make them easier to understand and follow, opening up tourism and reducing the costs to go abroad.
“As global vaccination efforts continue to accelerate and more people gain protection from this dreadful disease, it is right that our rules and regulations keep pace.”Sajid Javid, Health and Social Secretary
From late October, the country will make changes to allow passengers who change flights or international trains during their journey to follow the measures associated to their country of departure, rather than any countries they have transited through as part of their journey.