New Covid travel rules unveiled – here’s everything you need to know

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced some major changes to the Covid travel rules, including more freedom for people who are fully vaccinated.

By Rahmah Ghazali
Friday, 17th September 2021, 7:39 pm
Updated Friday, 17th September 2021, 7:39 pm

In a series of tweets, he said the changes to the 'traffic light' system, as well as testing requirements for double-jabbed travellers will take effect from October 4.

He said the new system was “proportionate” and “reflects the new landscape” of the numbers of those who are fully vaccinated.

“Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry,” he said.

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File photo dated 22/08/20 of passengers in the arrivals hall at Heathrow Airport, London. The traffic light system for international travel is to be scrapped and the number of countries from which returning travellers will be required to quarantine in a hotel is to be cut, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced. Issue date: Friday September 17, 2021. PA Photo. From October 4, there will be a single red list of countries from where travellers to England must stay in a Government-supervised hotel - with Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives all removed from the line-up. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Welcoming the news, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Today we have simplified the travel rules to make them easier to understand and follow, opening up tourism and reducing the costs to go abroad.

“As global vaccination efforts continue to accelerate and more people gain protection from this dreadful disease, it is right that our rules and regulations keep pace.”

What are the new Covid rules?

The Transport Secretary said the traffic light system of countries on green, amber and red lists is being replaced with a single red list, simplifying rules on travel for non-red list countries.

Eight countries, Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Oman, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are being removed from the red list from 4am on Wednesday September 22.

This means, travellers will not have to pay for hotel quarantine upon their return to England.

Fully vaccinated people are also no longer required to take a pre-departure test before arrival into England from a non-red country.

Later in October, they will be able to replace the day two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow.

With the amber list gone, what will happen to the red list countries?

Red list remains in place as a number of countries continue to have coronavirus outbreaks that the government is concerned about.

Therefore, people arriving from countries on the red list will still be required to stay in a quarantine hotel for 11 nights, at a cost more than £2000 for solo travellers.

When the changes take effect, the red list, which previously included 62 countries, will be reduced to 56.

What about those who have not been vaccinated?

Unvaccinated people are still restricted from travelling.

Travellers who have not received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine must quarantine for 10 days at home after returning from a green list country, and they must take a lateral flow test before leaving and a PCR test on day two and eight when they return.

But they can opt for another PCR test on day five of quarantine in order to be released sooner.

Will the effect take place UK-wide?

These changes do not affect passengers flying into Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland, as each country has its own set of rules and restrictions.

Scotland said they will not follow England in removing the requirement for people who are fully vaccinated to take a pre-departure test before returning from non-red list destinations “due to significant concerns at the impact on public health.”

Meanwhile, Welsh Government said they will carefully consider the UK Government’s proposed changes to the border health measures before making any decision.