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Covid travel traffic light system scrapped from today

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

The UK’s travel traffic light system has been scrapped and replaced with a new, simplified system.

From 4am today, countries are classified as either red or rest of world.

People returning from a red list country – such as Argentina, Mexico and South Africa – will still have to pay to quarantine for 10 days in a quarantine hotel and take Covid tests on day two and day eight.

However, fully vaccinated passengers  – and unvaccinated under 18s – from more than 50 countries can now enter the UK without needing to complete a pre-departure test (PDT), a day eight test or enter a 10-day self-isolation period.

They will still have to take a Covid test on day two and fill in a passenger locator form ahead of travel.

Unvaccinated travellers will still have to take a pre-departure test, PCR tests on day two and eight, and self-isolate for 10 days, with the option to test to release after five days.

The government has also confirmed that later this month, fully vaccinated passengers arriving from a non-red list country will be able to replace their day two test with a cheaper lateral flow test.

The Department for Transport said it hopes to have this in place for when people return from half-term breaks but has not released further details.

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “We are accelerating towards a future where travel continues to reopen safely and remains open for good, and today’s rule changes are good news for families, businesses and the travel sector.

“Our priority remains to protect public health but, with more than 8 in 10 people now fully vaccinated, we are able to take these steps to lower the cost of testing and help the sector to continue in its recovery.”

Private PCR test providers came under fire over the summer for charging travellers hundreds of pounds for mandatory tests.

Rory Boland, travel editor at Which?, said:“Travellers were let down badly during the summer by a dysfunctional PCR testing market that left them exposed to extortionate prices and unreliable providers.

“However, with just weeks until half term the government has still not given further details on its plans to allow fully-vaccinated travellers to use lateral flow tests on arrival into the UK later this month.

“The issues with PCR tests must not be repeated for lateral flow testing – the government must ensure a properly functioning system is in place.”