Traffic light system ‘expected to be scrapped’ – what could the new travel rules be?

Travel: Calder predicts 'more positive than negative' changes

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The traffic light system for travel has been in place since May 17, 2021, when the UK Government allowed some “non-essential” international journeys to resume. Experts are now predicting the system could be “scrapped” in a matter of weeks, in favour of a new system.

When the Government introduced the traffic light system earlier this year, they vowed to review it by October 1.

This has triggered a “rethink”, according to an anonymous source who told The Telegraph.

They said: “It’s about whether you are vaccinated or not, rather than the country you are travelling to.

“What it means is that green and amber disappear and only vaccination status will count for where you travel.

“For a vaccinated person, just as now all countries apart from red are ‘green’.

“For an unvaccinated person, it means that your travel to a green country might be slightly more difficult.

“There’s a potential psychological boost in that a lot of people think travel to amber is risky whereas if it disappeared, people may be more willing to travel to X, Y or Z.”

Travel expert Paul Charles said he, along with other industry insiders, were already “aware” of plans to change the current rules.

He said: “The traffic light system is expected to be scrapped by October 1 – at last.

“Airlines and some of us in the sector are aware of plans to create a simpler system, where countries are either red or not. This would be the US model in effect, which I’ve been calling for.

“Scrapping of traffic light system would be a relief to pretty well everyone and herald a ‘living with an endemic’ approach rather than blanket country measures.”

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What are the current traffic light rules?

Under the current traffic light rules, nations are categorised as “red”, “amber” or “green” based on a number of Covid-related factors.

This include, but are not limited to, the rate of Covid infections in a country, the percentage of the population vaccinated and the risk of “variants of concern”.

Arrivals from green list countries can enter the UK without the need for quarantine. This is regardless of their vaccination status.

Travellers must complete a passenger locator form and take a pre-departure Covid test.

They must also take a PCR test on day two of their arrival.

Travellers coming from amber list countries are able to avoid quarantine if they are vaccinated.

Unvaccinated arrivals are required to self-isolate for 10 days.

Vaccinated arrivals must complete a passenger locator form, take a pre-departure Covid test and a PCR test on day two of their arrival.

Unvaccinated passengers must follow the same rules, plus take a further PCR test on day eight of their quarantine.

Travellers from red list countries are only permitted to enter the UK if they are UK or Irish citizens or residents. They must then remain in hotel quarantine for 10 days (11 nights) at their own expense.

Testing will be included throughout this period.

What could the new rules for international travel be?

The UK Government has not yet confirmed whether or not traffic light travel rules will change, or what the new system could look like.

However, experts have suggested there is potential for a system similar to that currently in place in the US.

In this instance, the traveller’s vaccination system would be the key to opening up the world.

Amber and green would no longer exist as separate categories, but red would remain.

For fully vaccinated travellers, the green and amber list rules would likely remain the same, though the two lists would exist as one.

Experts suggest this rule change could make travel more difficult for those who have not received the jab.

Hotel quarantine is anticipated to remain for red list nations.

There has been no clear indication as to whether testing and quarantine rules would tighten for unvaccinated travellers, or if testing for double-jabbed Britons may relax.

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