*From Oct 4, scraps ‘Traffic Light’ System, maintains single ‘red list’ of countries
By Sola Ogundipe
The UK government says it is scrapping its often controversial “traffic light system” of grading countries according to the COVID-19 risk guideline that is currently in operation for international travel into England.
In an announcement of the forthcoming changes to its travel guidelines, as from 4 am on Monday, 4th of October, 2021, the UK says rules for international travel to England will change from the red, amber, green traffic light system to a single red list of countries with simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world.
Also, under the new arrangement, the rules for travel from countries and territories not on the red list will depend on the travellers’ vaccination status.
As from the same date, fully vaccinated travellers will not need a pre-departure test when they arrive in England from a non-red list country.
According to the review, all passengers arriving from red list countries from the 4th of October 4 at 4 a.m., regardless of vaccination status, will only be allowed into England if they are a British or Irish national or have a residence in the UK
In a series of tweets weekend, the British transport secretary, Grant Schapps, announced changes to the rules governing international travel into England for British citizens, to see an end to pre-departure tests for fully-vaccinated travellers.
According to Schapps, “From the 4th of October, the UK government will maintain a red list of high-risk countries and move the rest of the world onto a single footing.
“From Monday 4 October, if you’re fully vaccinated, you won’t need a pre-departure test before arrival into England from a non-red country and, from later in October, you will be able to replace the PCR test taken on Day 2 of your return with a cheaper lateral flow test.
“We’ll also be introducing a new simplified system for international travel from Monday 4 October, replacing the current approach with a single red list and simplified measures for the rest of the world – striking the right balance to manage the public health risk as No.1 priority,” Schapps noted.
However, all passengers will still need to fill in a passenger locator form ahead of travel. Nigeria is currently placed on the amber list.
According to the guidelines, unvaccinated passengers returning from non-red countries (including Nigeria) will still need to take pre-departure tests, Day 2 and Day 8 PCR tests during a 10-day period of self-isolation. Test to release on Day 5 remains an option to reduce the self-isolation period.
Further, Schaps said from the 4th of October, the government is also extending the list of countries whose vaccination programmes will be seen as being on a par with that of the UK, meaning vaccinated travellers will not need a pre-departure test or a Day 8 test once in England, and they will not be required to self-isolate.
According to Schapps, the measures are to simplify international travel to reduce costs, take advantage of higher levels of vaccination, and improve safety.
Under the current regime, travellers returning to the UK from green list countries, and fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber list countries, are not required to enter quarantine, although they are required to take Covid-19 tests before setting off for the UK and on day two of their return. If a test returns a positive result, self-isolation is required.
It was stated that passengers permitted to enter from red list countries will be required to take a pre-departure test, book a hotel-based quarantine package and complete a passenger locator form.