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A 'constant rollercoaster': England's holiday rules changed 50 times during Covid outbreak
21 August 2021, 13:25
There have been 50 changes to international travel rules since the Covid outbreak in what the travel industry called a "constant rollercoaster" of adjustments.
Tourism businesses have been sharply critical of how ministers have handled travel during the pandemic while the Government's spokesman said it wants to protect public health.
Constant changes to the rules, which also see countries move through the traffic light system depending on how safe it is deemed to visit.
The high number of changes applies to England but a similar number was also seen in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with the devolved administrations mostly following England.
Analysis by the PA news agency found testing and quarantine rules for arrivals in England changed 50 times since March, when lockdown was first imposed.
The green, amber and red lists were have been updated every three weeks while the list of travel corridors, which allowed tourists to holiday without quarantining, changed almost every week when they existed between July 2020 and January 2021.
The frequent changes even caught out the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, who was in Spain when it was taken off the corridor list after just 16 days.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of travel trade association Abta, said worries over changes to a country’s designation were "reducing the public's confidence about taking an overseas break".
He said public health "must come first" but the Government needed to be "much clearer" about its decision making behind the rule changes.
Green list countries can be visited without quarantining while amber list destinations will require self-isolation at home unless a person is fully-vaccinated.
Arrivals from red list states must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days.
EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren said: "It is no wonder that consumers in the UK are confused.
"Now is the time for Government to simplify the rules around travel, make green truly green and restriction free, remove expensive and unnecessary testing requirements for the fully vaccinated travelling from amber countries, and put an end to this constant rollercoaster of changes."
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: "It has been one of the worst Government policies ever."
A Government spokesman said: "Our top priority is to protect public health. Decisions on our traffic light system are kept under regular review and are informed by the latest risk assessment from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and wider public health factors.
"We know this is a challenging time for the travel industry which is why we are providing an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs and businesses."
Here is the PA news agency's analysis of the changes:
1. June 8 2020: Arrivals are subjected to a 14-day quarantine period.
- 2. July 10 2020: Travel corridors are introduced, meaning arrivals from 73 countries and territories are exempt from quarantine.
- 3. July 26 2020: Spain is removed from the travel corridors list.
- 4. July 28 2020: Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines are added to the travel corridors list.
- 5. July 31 2020: Luxembourg is removed from the travel corridors list.
- 6. August 8 2020: Andorra, Belgium and the Bahamas are removed from the travel corridors list. Brunei and Malaysia are added.
- 7. August 15 2020: France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos, and Aruba are removed from the travel corridors list.
- 8. August 22 2020: Croatia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Austria are removed from the travel corridors list.
- 9. August 29 2020: Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Jamaica are removed from the travel corridors list. Cuba is added.
- 10. September 9 2020: The islands policy is introduced to the travel corridors list. Seven Greek islands are removed.
- 11. September 12 2020: Mainland Portugal, Hungary, French Polynesia and Reunion are removed from the travel corridors list. Sweden is added.
- 12. September 19 2020: Slovenia and Guadeloupe are removed from the travel corridors list. Thailand and Singapore are added.
- 13. September 26 2020: Denmark, Iceland, Slovakia and Curacao are removed from the travel corridors list.
- 14. October 3 2020: Turkey, Poland, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba are removed from the travel corridors list.
- 15. October 10 2020: The Greek islands of Lesvos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos are added to the travel corridors list.
- 16. October 18 2020: Italy, San Marino and Vatican City State are removed from the travel corridors list. The Greek island of Crete is added.
- 17. October 25 2020: Spain's Canary Islands, the Greek island of Mykonos, the Maldives and Denmark are added to the travel corridors list. Liechtenstein is removed.
- 18. November 1 2020: Cyprus and Lithuania are removed from the travel corridors list.
- 19. November 5 2020: Holidays are banned as England enters a second lockdown.
- 20. November 6 2020: Denmark is removed from the travel corridors list.
- 21. November 7 2020: A travel ban on arrivals from Denmark is introduced after widespread outbreaks of coronavirus on mink farms. Sweden and Germany are removed from the travel corridors list.
- 22. November 14 2020: All of Greece apart from Corfu, Crete, Rhodes, Zakynthos and Kos are removed from the travel corridors list. The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Turks and Caicos, Laos, Iceland, Cambodia, Chile and Bahrain are added.
- 23. November 21 2020: Israel, Namibia, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, the Northern Mariana Islands and the US Virgin Islands are added to the travel corridors list.
- 24. November 28 2020: Estonia and Latvia are removed from the travel corridors list. Several Pacific islands, Bhutan, Timor-Leste, Mongolia and Aruba are added. Denmark's travel ban is lifted.
- 25. December 2 2020: The total ban on holidays is ended as the tiers system is introduced based on areas of England.
- 26. December 12 2020: Botswana and Saudi Arabia are added to the travel corridors list. The Canary Islands are removed.
- 27. December 14 2020: The quarantine period for arrivals from locations not on the travel corridors list is reduced from 14 days to 10 days.
- 28. December 15 2020: The Test to Release policy is introduced, allowing travellers to end quarantine early if they buy a test.
- 29. December 19 2020: Uruguay, Namibia and the US Virgin Islands are removed from the travel corridors list.
- 30. December 24 2020: A travel ban on arrivals from South Africa is introduced.
- 31. January 6 2021: International leisure travel is banned during the third lockdown.
- 32. January 9 2021: The travel ban is extended to southern Africa. Israel, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Botswana are removed from the travel corridors list.
- 33. January 12 2021: The United Arab Emirates is removed from the travel corridors list.
- 34. January 15 2021: Pre-departure testing is introduced for all arrivals.
- 35. January 15 2021: Entry to the UK is banned for passengers arriving from destinations across South and Central America, Portugal, Panama and Cape Verde.
- 36. January 16 2021: Aruba, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, and Qatar are removed from the travel corridors list.
- 37. January 18 2021: All travel corridors are suspended.
- 38. January 29 2021: A travel ban is introduced for arrivals from the United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda.
- 39. February 15 2021: Quarantine hotels are introduced for arrivals from red list locations.
- 40. March 8 2021: Departing travellers must fill out a new form setting out why their travel is permitted.
- 41. March 19 2021: Ethiopia, Oman, Somalia and Qatar are added to the red list.
- 42. April 9 2021: The Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh are added to the red list.
- 43. April 23 2021: India is added to the red list.
- 44. May 17 2021: A traffic light system for international travel is launched, with 12 countries and territories on the quarantine-free green list.
- 45. June 8 2021: Portugal is moved from green to amber. Afghanistan, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Trinidad and Tobago are added to the red list.
- 46. June 30 2021: Malta, Portugal's Madeira, Spain's Balearic Islands and several UK Overseas Territories and Caribbean islands are added to the green list. Eritrea, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mongolia, Tunisia and Uganda are added to the red list.
- 47. July 19 2021: Travellers returning from amber list countries except France are exempt from quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated in the UK.
- 48. July 19 2021: Bulgaria, Croatia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are added to the green list. The Balearic Islands and British Virgin Islands move from green to amber. Cuba, Indonesia, Myanmar and Sierra Leone are added to the red list.
- 49. August 2 2021: Vaccinations authorised in the US, the EU and Switzerland are recognised for arrivals from amber countries. International cruises resume.
- 50. August 8 2021: France is aligned with the rest of the amber list. Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway move from amber to green. India, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates move from red to amber. Georgia, Mexico, Reunion and Mayotte switch from amber to red.