Mr Grant Shapps, the United Kingdom (UK) Transport Secretary, has announced a simplified system for international travel in light of the success of the UK’s domestic vaccine rollout, providing greater stability for industry and passengers.
The Transport Secretary in a statement, which was made available to the Ghana News Agency, said the current traffic light system would be replaced by a single red list of countries and territories which would continue to be crucial in order to protect public health, and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world from Monday 4 October at 0400 hours.
It said testing requirements would also be reduced for eligible fully vaccinated travellers, who will no longer need to take a Pre-Departure Tests (PDT) when travelling to England from Monday 4 October 0400 hours.
It said from the end of October, eligible fully vaccinated passengers and those with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries would be able to replace their day two test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England.
The statement said the Government wants to introduce this by the end of October, aiming to have it in place for when people return from half-term breaks.
It said anyone testing positive would need to isolate and take a confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, at no additional cost to the traveller, which would be gnomically sequenced to help identify new variants.
It said testing for unvaccinated passengers from non-red countries would include pre-departure tests, day two and day eight PCR tests.
It noted that test to release remains an option to reduce self-isolation period.
It said from 4 October, England would welcome fully vaccinated travellers from a host of new countries – who would 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 United States and Europe.
Mr Shapps Transport Secretary said: “Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system.
“One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry.
“Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy and with more than eight in 10 adults vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape.”
The statement said part of the third Global Travel Taskforce checkpoint review, the current update reiterates the Government’s focus on protecting its borders from the most dangerous variants and ensures continuity for industry and passengers the remainder of the year.
“We will look to set out a further review for the UK’s international travel policy early in the new year to provide further certainty for the spring and summer 2022 seasons,” it said.
It said conducting the final regular traffic light review before the switch to the new two-tiered system, several additional countries and territories would move off the red list – Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya.
It noted that changes would come into effect at 0400 hours Wednesday 22 September.
The statement said passengers who weren’t recognised as being fully vaccinated with authorised vaccines and certificates under England’s international travel rules, would still have to take a pre-departure test, a day two and day eight PCR test and self-isolate for 10 days upon their return from a non-red list country under the new two-tiered travel programme.
It said the Test to Release would remain an option for unvaccinated passengers who wish to shorten their isolation period.
Mr Sajid Javid, UK Health and Social Care Secretary said: “Today we have simplified the travel rules to make them easier to understand and follow, opening up tourism and reducing the costs to go abroad.
“As global vaccination efforts continue to accelerate and more people gain protection from this dreadful disease, it is right that our rules and regulations keep pace”.
The statement said from late October, they would also be making changes to allow passengers who change flights or international trains during their journey to follow the measures associated to their country of departure, rather than any countries they have transited through as part of their journey.
It said all passengers would still need to fill in a passenger locator form ahead of travel.
It said passengers should continue to check GOV.UK travel guidance including Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice before, during and after travel to keep up to date in entry requirements and ensure compliance with the latest COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 regulations for the country being visited.