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All countries to be removed from travel red list

Written by: Emma Lunn
The travel red list will be cleared from 4am tomorrow (Wednesday) due to the Omicron variant already being spread within the community in the UK.

Health secretary Sajid Javid announced the move to the House of Commons today. It means that people arriving in the UK from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe will no longer need to undergo hotel quarantine, at £2,285 for a 10-day stay.

The red list was cleared in October but the countries were added back on to it last month when the Omicron variant was discovered in South Africa.

Omicron now accounts for a third of new infections in London, meaning there is little point in using hotel quarantine to try to stop the variant entering the UK from overseas.

Instead, all travellers arriving in England will need to isolate at home. If double vaccinated, they can be released with a negative PCR test taken within two days of arrival. If not, they must stay at home for 10 days and get a test before day two and another on day eight or later. UK arrivals also need to take a test before traveling to England.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said these testing measures would be reviewed in the first week of January.

As health restrictions are devolved, it will be up to the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland whether they also remove countries from the red list.

When questioned, Javid was unsure about whether people currently on hotel quarantine would be released early or could get a partial refund. Many have complained about chaotic organisation and inedible food during their stays.

Although good news for many travellers, removing the countries from the red list will be a blow to many people who cancelled trips to the African countries when they were added to the list.

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