Number of ‘red list’ countries for international travel set to be slashed this week

The number of countries on the international travel red list could be reduced from 54 to less than ten

The government is set to reduce the number of countries on the ‘red list’ for international travel significantly, from 54 to just nine, according to the Telegraph.

The move will be announced on Thursday, following already announced changes to the international travel restrictions which come into effect on Tuesday.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • There are reports that the UK’s travel restrictions are set to be eased even further this week, with many countries currently on the ‘red list’ to be removed from it
  • Currently, people travelling to the UK from countries like Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa have to complete a ten-day quarantine in a hotel upon arrival, costing more than £2000
  • Of the 54 countries currently subject to these restrictions, it is thought that as few as nine could still face restrictions after the government’s next travel announcement
  • Changes which come into effect from Monday will see the current traffic light system scrapped, with countries instead to be classified as either ‘red list’ or ‘rest of the world’ (ROW)
  • Fully vaccinated travellers arriving from ROW countries won’t need to take a test before departure on return to the UK, while unvaccinated people will still have to take a test and self-isolate for 10 days

What’s been said?

Speaking to the Telegraph, a source said: “We are expecting sharp reductions in the red list. It could be as few as nine countries left on the list.”

Background - how will the new system work?

The current travel traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries and territories from 4am on Monday 4 October, while countries previously on the green and amber lists will be classed as ‘rest of the world’.

Testing requirements will be reduced for eligible fully vaccinated travellers, who will no longer need to take a pre departure test when travelling to England.

From the end of October, fully vaccinated passengers, and those with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries, will be able to replace their day two test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England.

Anyone who tests positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost, which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.

Testing for unvaccinated passengers from non-red countries will continue to include pre-departure tests, day two and day eight PCR tests, although test to release will remain an option to reduce the self-isolation period.

Those who are not double-jabbed will also be required to self-isolate even if returning from a country previously on the green list, which is not currently the case.

From 4 October, England will also welcome fully vaccinated travellers from a host of new countries – who will be treated like returning fully vaccinated UK travellers – including 17 countries and territories such as Japan and Singapore, following the success of an existing pilot with the US and Europe.

The Welsh Government is considering following the UK Government’s guidance, but Scotland has said it will not be removing the requirement for people who are fully vaccinated to take a pre-departure test before returning from non-red list destinations.

However, both administrations said they would mirror the changes to the red list destinations.

Northern Ireland is yet to announce whether it will be making any changes to travel rules.