UK red list countries: What are the criteria to move a country off the red list?

GMB: Sean Fletcher grills Grant Shapps on ‘chaotic’ travel strategy

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The Government announced its latest steps toward “cautiously reopening international travel” amid the coronavirus pandemic this week, with updates to countries in the travel traffic light system for quarantine and testing. All changes will only come into effect on Sunday, August 8, at 4am in England – the current rules will apply until then.

How does a country get moved off the red list?

This week, India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will be moved from the red list to the amber list.

The Government said it was because “the situation in these countries has improved”, but added data “will be kept under review and the Government will not hesitate to take action where a country’s epidemiological picture changes”.

Destinations have been assigned to each list based on a range of Covid-19 health metrics, including vaccination numbers, infection rates and prevalence of variants.

The Government said: “All classification changes have been decided by ministers, informed by the latest data and analysis by the Joint Biosecurity Centre and wider public health considerations, to help the public understand the risks to public health of travelling to different destinations.”

However, the exact data used to come to these decisions is not made public.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Further countries have been added to the red list to help protect the success of our vaccine rollout from the threat of new variants.”

To add further woes to anyone needing to visit or return to the UK from a red list country, the cost of hotel quarantine is about to go up.

The Government said: “In order to ensure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in these facilities, which have gone up, the cost will increase from Thursday, August 12.

“Alternative payment arrangements remain available to those who genuinely cannot afford to pay and rates remain the same for children up to 12.”

The full list of which country is on the red, amber and green list can be found here. 

What are the travel rules now?

Green list

When returning from a country on the green list you must take a Covid test before departure and have proof of a negative result.

You also need to book another test for day two after your return

Amber list

A Covid test is needed three days before returning, and a PCR test two days after arriving. People who are not fully vaccinated need to self-isolate for 10 days, although this can be shortened for people in England by using the Test to Release scheme – paying for a test on day five.

Fully vaccinated people will need to do the tests but not quarantine.

The Government said: “Those who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised and administered in the UK, US or Europe do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.”

Red list

Regardless of your vaccination status, you must take a test before departure and, on arrival, self-isolate for 10 days in a government-approved quarantine hotel.

Only residents and citizens of the EU may enter from red list countries.

The Government said: “If travelling abroad, you need to take steps to keep safe and prepare in case things change before you go or while you are there.

“Check and subscribe to FCDO travel advice updates to understand the latest entry requirements and COVID-19 rules – and passengers are advised to check all entry requirements and FCDO travel advice before they book any foreign travel.”

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