Transport Sec promises 'simplified' travel system ahead of major overhaul

16 September 2021, 20:45 | Updated: 17 September 2021, 17:44

The amber list could soon be scrapped
The amber list could soon be scrapped. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Grant Shapps has promised Friday's travel announcement will be simpler and cheaper for tourists, with the amber and green lists reportedly set to be merged and costly PCR Covid tests set to be scrapped.

In a tweet, the Transport Secretary said: "I'll set out measures to simplify international travel later today in order to reduce costs, take advantage of higher levels of vaccination, and keep us all safe."

The three-tiered traffic light system is set to be overhauled and simplified after months of criticism that it is too confusing and distressing for tourists.

The Government has moved countries between green, amber and red lists, with travellers given extremely short notice if their destination was moving.

It led to scenes of tourists desperately scrambling to get home if their country was added to the red or amber lists, which had varying requirements to quarantine.

Reports say after months of criticism from holidaymakers and the travel industry, the system will be radically overhauled and simplified - in time for the October half term break.

Boris Johnson said earlier in the week he wanted to overhaul travel rules and make "the burdens of testing less onerous for those who are coming back into the country".

Read more: COVID-19 travel: Will RED LIST be updated tomorrow? Shakeup of testing system expected

The Times reports the amber list will be ditched, and the Telegraph said amber and green will be merged into one list.

The Guardian reports it will now be a set of "go" and "no go" lists with the red list due to be cut in half.

A travel review, in which the countries move between the lists, is due.

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Covid travel expert Tim White said he expected red list moves but added: "Personally I think there will be a review, but with green/amber lists set to be scrapped soon, it would seem pointless moving a country to green for two weeks, or from amber to green."

The system has been ridiculed for the amount of lists that emerged.

At one point, a green list existed alongside a green watchlist, an amber list, an amber-plus list which applied to France, the red list and a proposed amber watchlist, for countries that could go red.

Green list countries are the easiest to travel to, and fully-vaccinated tourists do not need to quarantine when returning from amber list destinations. Previously, they had to isolate at home.

Red list arrivals must quarantine in a government-approved hotel.

A simplification would be welcome to the travel industry, which has been battered by lockdowns and tourism restrictions.

Key figures in the sector have sharply criticised the traffic light system.

It also follows another boost – with expectations that requirements for tourists to take costly PCR tests at the end of their holiday will be scrapped.