The UK’s current traffic light system for travel abroad is scheduled to be updated every three weeks, and categorises countries and territories by their perceived risk for coronavirus rates. Green-rated countries are subject to the least restrictions and re-entry requirements, and red-rated countries the most. The most recent update to the list was made on 15th July – so what changed?
Travel Test Packages and Re-entry Requirements
Until now, every person re-entering the UK has needed to privately purchase a travel test package in order to take a PCR test before arrival and then on day two. These kits must be bought and paid for ahead of re-entry to the country and can only be sourced from a government-approved agency. For more information about travel test packages and how they work, talk to a government-approved supplier such Medicspot for expert information.
The 15th July update to the list saw some changes made to the re-entry and quarantine requirements for travellers. Notably, the rules for amber-rated territories have changed — red and green remain the same.
For those who have travelled from or through an amber country (excluding France), the requirements now vary between those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (through either two inoculations of the AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Modern vaccinations, or a single Johnson & Johnson jab) and those who have not been. Those fully vaccinated will need prove their vaccination status to their travel facilitator and will still need to present a day-two negative test result upon arrival. However, there is no quarantine requirement at all, provided this second day test is negative. For those who have not been fully vaccinated against coronavirus, the same requirements are in place as prior to July 15th — full quarantine at home or at a designated address must take place for 10 days, and tests must be taken on day two and day eight after arrival into the UK.
The above requirements for tests do not apply to children under 4 and there is no vaccination exemption for anyone travelling from or through France, due to their current high infection rate.
Re-categorisation of Countries
The 15th July update to the traffic light travel system also saw some shifts in countries and territories between categories.
There were some additions to the red list as countries were downgraded from medium risk to high. Cuba, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone all were moved to the red list effective as of 4am on the 19th July; meaning that full hotel quarantine periods would be enforced for all individuals travelling from or through these countries.
The amber list also had some additions that were previously rated as green. The British Virgin Islands and the Spanish Balearic Islands (Formentera, Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca) moved to the medium risk category effective from 4am on the 19th July.
The green ‘watch list’, that is, those countries and territories on course for close monitoring and at risk of being re-classified as amber if infection rates rise, did grow significantly. Anguilla, Antarctica, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Israel, Madeira, Monserrat, Pitcairn Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands are all now considered as ‘at risk’ with the possibility of moving down to the amber list.
However, July 15th wasn’t all bad news! There were some additions to the low risk green category for easier travel. Bulgaria, Croatia, Hong Kong and Taiwan were all ranked green as of 4am on the 19th July, opening up new destinations for those wanting to globetrot a little.
Expected Further Changes
Although the traffic light travel list is only officially updated every three weeks, the government is able to update it at shorter notice should infection rates spike elsewhere in the world. The natural pattern of the categorisation so far does seem as though once a destination is added to the green list and tourists flock to it, the risk rises. It is then often very quickly shifted to the watchlist and then to downgraded to amber. This is most common in short haul sunny destinations and so generally speaking, the European destinations of this type are quote at risk.
The introduction of differing requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers is a positive indication of a successful inoculation rollout and so we can expect further exemptions and leniency to be made in the future, as herd immunity rates increase as a result of vaccinations.
It is, of course, impossible to say what will happen next with the traffic light list but there are trends and themes that can be deduced from it. The best thing to do is to get vaccinated, use common sense and travel safely. International travel through summer 2021 need not be a write off if done right!