All UK passengers will be required to take COVID tests regardless of destination under the government’s new traffic light system for international travel.
Countries will be categorised as ‘Red’, ‘Amber’, or ‘Green’ based on a number of risk factors – including the percentage of the population which has been vaccinated; infection rates; and the presence of ‘variants of concern’.
Restrictions for passengers (such as quarantining on arrival) will remain in place – but will apply to people differently depending on whether their destination is ‘Red’, ‘Amber’ or ‘Green’.
The traffic light system is as follows:
- Green: Arrivals must take a pre-departure test and PCR test before their return to the UK – but will not need to quarantine when they arrive.
- Amber: Arrivals must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in Britain and take a pre-departure test, as well as two further PCR tests.
- Red: Arrivals must stay for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel, taking a pre-departure test and two further PCR tests.
A ‘green watchlist’ will also be introduced to help identify countries most at risk of moving from ‘green’ to ‘amber’.
The government said it was currently too early to predict which countries will be on which list, but that it would set out the categories by early May.
International travel is set to resume from the UK on May 17 at the earliest – with the planned removal of ‘permission to travel’ forms currently required to leave the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Schapps stated: “International travel is vital – it boosts businesses and underpins the UK economy – but more than that, it brings people together, connects families who have been kept apart, and allows us to explore new horizons.
“The framework announced today will help allow us to reopen travel safely and sustainably, ensure we protect our hard-won achievements on the vaccine roll out, and offer peace of mind to both passengers and industry as we begin to take trips abroad once again.”
The system will be reviewed on June 28 to see whether further measures on travel can be eased.
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