COVID-19 travel: Will red list be updated tomorrow? Shakeup of testing system expected

16 September 2021, 08:25 | Updated: 17 September 2021, 17:53

The UK travel list is expected to be updated tomorrow, with testing requirement changes also on the cards.
The UK travel list is expected to be updated tomorrow, with testing requirement changes also on the cards. Picture: Alamy

By Joe Cook

The UK government is set to update its Covid travel red list tomorrow, with multiple countries expected to move from amber to red, meaning travellers will have to pay thousands to stay in hotel quarantine on their return to Britain.

There are also hints that a major overhaul of the rules could be on the cards, with the government hinting the green and amber lists could soon be scrapped.

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson told a press conference ministers are considering "simplifying" the traffic light system for foreign travel.

He offered few details but added they are also considering how to make "the burdens of testing less onerous for those who are coming back into the country".

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It is unclear if this announcement will come tomorrow, with Covid travel expert Tim White predicting: “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.

“But I would expect some red list moves.”

However, there are suggestions the shakeup could come as soon as this week. The Financial Times reports that people who have had two jabs will no longer need to take a pre-departure test before entering England.

Earlier this week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid hinted that post-arrival day 2 and day 8 tests could also be switched from PCR to lateral flow tests, significantly reducing the cost and hassle for travellers.

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After a summer of chaos last year, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had pledged that there would be few changes over August.

"It's not like last year where we had weekly changes, this is now set for the next three weeks," he told LBC's Tom Swarbrick at the beginning of August.

"Unless something that absolutely no one saw coming turns up, then people can go away, enjoy the holidays and not have to look over their shoulders."

But with that hiatus now over and cases rising in some parts of the world, changes could be on the cards tomorrow.

Popular Caribbean travel destinations Jamaica and Grenada are tipped to move to the red list, as is Nigeria.

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Grenada, Jamaica and Nigeria are all tipped to move to the Covid red list.
Grenada, Jamaica and Nigeria are all tipped to move to the Covid red list. Picture: Alamy

For those that are forced to stay in hotel quarantine after returning from red list countries, the price has increased from £2,285 for a single adult and £1,430 for a second adult.

The government said the cost rise was "to better reflect the total costs involved".