Covid travel: Red list scrapped in UK, Health Secretary announces

Restrictions were introduced to stem the flow of Omicron, but now it's being scrapped after several thousand cases have been confirmed in England

Georgina Pellant Georgina Pellant - 14th December 2021

The red list for international travel will be scrapped in the UK, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has announced this afternoon.

This means that Covid-19 travel rules are set to change for people coming into the country, meaning that people flying in from certain destinations will no longer be asked to quarantine on arrival.

Previously the red list, which was reintroduced between 29 November and 4 December in a bid to stop Omicron from coming into the country, required travellers arriving from some countries to quarantine in hotels for 11 days – costing solo travellers several thousand pounds at short notice.

Javid told MPs in the Commons today that it was no longer deemed necessary to block arrivals from countries with Omicron from coming into the UK.

This, he said, was because there are now several thousand confirmed cases in England.

Image: Geograph

“Now that there is community transmission, the travel red list is less effective,” Javid said.

The 11 countries on the red list will be removed as of 4am tomorrow. They are Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


It is not currently clear whether hotel detainees will be able to leave their quarantine early or receive a partial refund, given the new announcement.

Other border measures will remain in place, however. All travellers entering the UK must take a Covid test before departure and isolate until they receive a negative PCR result, regardless of their vaccination status.

Image: Geograph

Transport secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: “All current testing measures remain in place and will be reviewed in the first week of January.


“As always, we keep all our travel measures under review and we may impose new restrictions should there be a need to do so to protect public health.”

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, told ITV: “With Omicron so prevalent in the UK, the inbound red list is now irrelevant and should have no countries on it. That would also mean the end of hotel quarantine.

“No government would want to be putting inbound travellers in forced hotel isolation during the Christmas period, so ministers will have to abandon it.”

He added: “Ministers have to adopt individual not blanket measures. Those who have been fully boosted should have no restrictions placed on them at all, if only to act as an incentive for people to get topped up.”

Featured image – Geograph