Friday, June 24

England simplifies ‘traffic light’ pandemic rules for international travel

The British government took steps on Friday to simplify the rules for international travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a Twitter announcement, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps highlighted that as of October 4, fully vaccinated travelers from non-Red countries will no longer need a pre-departure PCR test before traveling to England. Later in the month, the PCR test will be replaced by a cheaper lateral flow test.

Additionally, eight countries and territories will be removed from the red list on September 22, including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives, according to Shapps. You can see the full list here.

Lastly, the government will introduce a single red list starting October 4, removing countries from the green and amber list.

Previously, Shapps had said on Twitter that the measures were intended to “simplify international travel to reduce costs, take advantage of higher levels of vaccination and keep us all safe.”

Policy changes apply to England, while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own policies.

The government was under pressure to remove its “traffic light” system that classifies countries as red, amber or green: high, medium or low risk of the coronavirus. The categories have been criticized as unfair and confusing, and sudden changes in the status of countries have caused headaches for thousands of travelers.

People coming from “red list” countries had to spend 10 days in a government-approved quarantine hotel. Unvaccinated travelers from Amber List countries had to self-isolate for 10 days at home, while fully vaccinated travelers had to be tested for coronavirus before and after arriving in Britain.

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Airlines and travel companies have complained that Britain’s complicated and expensive requirements are keeping people away and making it difficult to recover from the pandemic. Heathrow Airport said this week that it had fallen from the busiest airport in Europe in 2019 to the 10th busiest now, behind rivals in cities like Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt.

The measure to ease restrictions has been received positively. The President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council, Julia Simpson, issued a statement saying that “we are pleased to see the rear end of an illogical traffic light system that caused confusion and distress for travelers.”

He added that “we are also pleased to see that the government has listened to our calls, that travelers with double vaccinations no longer need to perform pre-departure tests, and that antigen tests will replace expensive PCR before the end of the busy semester. vacation season.”

“While this is certainly a step in the right direction, for the UK to be a true leader, the government should adopt a system based on the risk of people, not countries. Putting entire countries on red lists is illogical if the UK can be kept safe by checking a person’s status and allowing totally criticized people to travel almost anywhere in the world safely, ”he said.

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