Why is Turkey still on the red list? Covid rules explained after travel update - and when it could go amber

Two more countries will be added to the UK travel red list from Monday, the government has announced

The travel red list will gain two new additions next week, after the government announced several changes to UK travel list on Thursday (26 August).

Despite hopes from holidaymakers, Turkey will retain its red list status when the latest changes come into effect from 4am on Monday (30 August).

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Turkey still remains on the red list (Photo: Shutterstock)

It was hoped the popular holiday spot would move to the amber list, but it is still considered too high risk for tourists to visit.

Why is Turkey still on the red list?

The rate of Covid-19 infection in a country is one of the factors which is considered when deciding whether destinations are given green, amber or red list status, and cases are currently spiking in Turkey.

The country is currently battling a third wave of infections, with almost 25,000 people testing positive for coronavirus in early August - the highest figure it has recorded in almost three months.

However, the recent surge in cases is still well below the second peak which saw infections climb to more than 60,000 per day back in April.

Around two-thirds of adults in Turkey have now received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while just under half are fully vaccinated.

But despite the strong vaccine rollout, daily infections have been increasing since early July, with the country recording 8,915 new cases in the week to 26 August and 147 deaths in the last seven days.

How is the red list decided?

The decision on which countries are added to each list is based on a range of criteria, taking into account public health advice and the Joint Biosecurity Centre’s assessment of the latest Covid data.

The criteria for the lists includes:

- The percentage of a country’s population that have been vaccinated

- The rate of infection

- The prevalence of variants of concern

- The country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing

What are the rules for red list countries?

Travellers returning from red list – or high risk – countries must stay in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days on their return to the UK.

Rules also state that travellers must take a pre-departure Covid test and a PCR test on or before day two, and on or after day eight.

The government has announced that the price of quarantine hotels, which are mandatory for travellers returning to the UK from red list locations, will be increased from 12 August.

The rate for solo travellers will rise from £1,750 to £2,285, while adults sharing a room will see their bill hiked from £650 to £1,430.

What are the other changes to the travel lists?

Thailand and Montenegro will both be added to the travel red list from Monday, meaning arrivals must enter a quarantine hotel for 11 days and take mandatory Covid tests, at a cost of more than £2,000.

The change comes due to the increase in coronavirus rates in these countries, posing a higher risk to UK public health.

The government explained: “The high rates combined with lower levels of published genomic surveillance in Thailand and Montenegro than other countries mean that an outbreak of a new variant or existing variants of concern (VOC) or variants under investigation (VUI) cannot be easily identified before it is imported and seeded across the UK.”

The Azores, Switzerland and Canada will join the green list from 4am on Monday (30 August), alongside Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein and Lithuania.

Canada’s addition will likely increase the number of Canadian visitors to the UK, but the North American country still has an entry ban in place for British nationals.

The changes will mean that travellers arriving from these destinations will not have to self-isolate, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated.

However, it is still a requirement to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test and day two tests when travelling to these locations, as well as completing a passenger locator form.

As for the amber list, no new additions were made in the latest update, meaning popular tourist spots, including Spain, France and Greece, still have quarantine restrictions in place for unvaccinated travellers.

When is the next update?

Reviews take place every three weeks, with the latest review taking place on Thursday 26 August.

As such, the next travel review should take place on Thursday 16 September, after which Turkey could be moved to the amber list.

Changes tend to come into place on the Sunday or Monday following the announcement.

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