Government removes red list destinations as Omicron spreads
The government has cleared the red list for arrivals into the UK following a risk assessment from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
Hotel quarantine had been reintroduced for travellers from a number of destinations in southern Africa last month in an attempt to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
However, the variant is now believed to be dominant in the UK, making further restrictions redundant.
Passengers returning from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe will not have to stay in managed quarantine from today.
Transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “With community transmission here as well as similar rates around the world, it’s right that we remove the 11 countries from our red list and these changes are the next sensible steps as we continue to tackle this variant.
“We remain focused on meeting our booster target for all adults by the end of the year, and while we will keep our travel testing measures in place for now, we will review this position in the first week of January.
“While all countries have now been removed from the red list, the managed quarantine hotel policy remains in place to act as a crucial line of defence against the importation of variants of concern.
“Restrictions will be re-imposed should there be a need to do so to protect public health.”
All vaccinated passengers arriving in the UK must continue to take a pre-departure test (PCR or lateral flow) two days before they depart for the UK and must take a PCR test on or before day two and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
Unvaccinated passengers must also take a pre-departure test, PCR test on day two and eight, and self-isolate for ten days.
Test to release remains an option to shorten their self-isolation period.
The government said it recognised the impact that temporary health measures have on the travel and aviation industry.
These measures – the red list, testing for arrivals and self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers – will be reviewed again early in the new year on January 5th.
Commenting on the new Julia Simpson, chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council, said: “We support the UK government’s removal of all countries from the nonsensical and harmful red list, which instead of limiting the spread of Covid-19 only punished countries for successfully identifying new strains of the virus.
“However, we are deeply disappointed that expensive day two PCR tests remain in place - it makes absolutely no sense.
“We should return to the system in place before these measures were introduced, with no pre-departure tests and a simple lateral flow test on arrival in the UK.
“Fully- vaccinated people should be able to travel freely and safely.”