Fully-vaccinated arrivals from France no longer need to isolate amid green list changes

5 August 2021, 12:06

  • Multiple changes announced to holiday travel list system
  • Boost for summer breaks with France quarantine axed and Spain saved from red list
  • Four countries taken off ‘red list’
  • Seven countries including Germany added to ‘green list’
  • But cost of quarantine hotels for Brits coming back from red list destinations is going up

By Daisy Stephens

France will no longer be on England's 'amber plus' list, and the requirement to quarantine will be removed, as part of a series of changes to the traffic light system for foreign travel.

In the announcement on Wednesday evening, Spain avoided being added to the red list but people flying back will face higher testing costs after ministers urged holidaymakers to take a PCR for the mandatory pre-departure test, rather than a cheaper lateral flow test.

India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will be removed from the red list, meaning fully-vaccinated Brits will be able to return from them without needing to quarantine as long as they test negative.

Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the green list meaning all Brits can visit without the need to quarantine unless they test positive.

Read more: Changes unveiled to foreign travel traffic light system - full list

It also emerged tonight that the cost of staying in a quarantine hotel is set to rise significantly. Solo travellers returning from red list countries will have to pay £2,285 to say in quarantine, with additional adults sharing a room needing to pay £1,430.

The Government said the rise is to "better reflect the increased costs involved".

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"We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we’ve made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world," said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

"While we must continue to be cautious, today’s changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public."

Additional changes include Georgia, Mexico, La Reunion and Mayotte being moved to the red list.

The changes to the list will come into effect at 4am on Sunday 8 August and the cost of quarantine hotels will go up from Thursday 12 August.

With the latest updates, the travel list will now consist of just three main categories, although there is also a 'green watchlist' which the Government says is to give travellers notice where a country’s green status is at risk.

Returning from a green list country requires two negative Covid tests, returning from an amber list country requires two tests as well as 10 days self-isolation unless you are fully vaccinated, and returning from a red list country requires three tests and 10 days’ quarantine in a Government approved hotel.

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Whilst Spain remains on the amber list, meaning double-jabbed travellers can return without needing to quarantine unless they test positive, cases are high there and the Government is advising arrivals to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test.

The Government said the data from all countries, including Spain, is being watched and the listings could change.

Travellers are advised to check the terms and conditions of their bookings in case listings change before they leave or while they are away.

They are also being encouraged to regularly check the travel advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FDCO), including before booking their trip.

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The changes to the travel lists have been welcomed by many, but others still believe the Government is being too cautious.

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said the extension of the green list is "a positive step forward" but warned that the UK remains "a long way off a full and meaningful restart of international travel".

Tim Alderslade, boss of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, described the announcement as "another missed opportunity", saying the travel industry has not had "anything like the reopening it was hoping for".

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said: "Now summer is fully under way, this provides some reassurance to consumers by keeping the status quo for key holiday destinations, as well as adding some Green list destinations for last-minute bookers where there are still great flight and holiday deals available.

"But we remain disappointed at the double standards applied to travel versus the domestic economy. With infection rates remaining lower in much of Europe and the high vaccination levels in the UK, if not now, it is hard to know when the time is for much of Europe to genuinely turn Green.

"And Government urgently needs to tackle this expensive testing regime which is adding unnecessary cost, especially for the fully vaccinated. No one wants to see flying become a preserve of the rich again - particularly when so many need to get away or reunite after such a long time."

Read more: Changes unveiled to foreign travel traffic light system - full list

Meanwhile, Labour leader Keir Starmer has condemned the Government for "chaos again".

"I think most people across the UK have got their head in their hands over this complete chaos.

"Every day we've had u-turns - changing of the approach. We called for a simplified system and we now may be getting a simplified system.

"For all the families that have been affected that's a step in the right direction, but why have we had to go through this wall of chaos again?

"These were predictable problems. We went through this at Christmas with the Christmas mixing chaos, we went through it last summer with the exams chaos.

"Every time there's a big issue confronting our Government, they go through a wall of chaos before they start sorting things out - completely unacceptable."

Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon criticised the Government for causing problems for "thousands of families" in their approach to France, and said the Government must explain the reasons behind the changes.

"The Government has plunged the summer plans of thousands of families into chaos with their flip-flopping over France," he said.

"While everyone wants to see international travel open up, it has to be done safely. Ministers must explain to passengers and the industry how they’ve reached these changes with clear information on the direction of travel of infections in each country."

Mr McMahon also highlighted the need for an internationally-recognised vaccine pass, saying that ministers needed to "set out a proper strategy, provide full data, and progress work with global partners on international vaccine passports so travellers and the industry can have clarity".

The Government says all classifications are decided by ministers and based off data and analysis from the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and wider public health considerations.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the new classifications showed the Government was balancing the need to open to international travel with the need to protect the country from new variants.

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"As we learn to live with this virus we are continuing to take steps to safely reopen international travel, based on the latest data and expert public health advice," said Mr Javid.

"As well as moving more countries to the green list, today’s announcement also demonstrates the need for continued caution.

"Further countries have been added to the red list to help protect the success of our vaccine rollout from the threat of new variants."