Travel update: Red list reduced to zero in boost for holidays

28 October 2021, 18:52

All countries have been removed from England's travel red list.
All countries have been removed from England's travel red list. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

All seven remaining countries have been removed from England's travel red list as the threat from coronavirus eases.

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said all seven countries remaining on the travel red list - Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela - would be removed as of 4am on Monday.

In a series of tweets, he said the category would remain in place "as a precautionary measure" in case countries needed to be added back in.

He said: "All seven remaining countries on the red list will be REMOVED from Mon 1 Nov at 4am.

"We can also confirm that from Monday, eligible travellers from over 30 new countries and territories including Peru & Uganda will be added to our inbound vax policy, bringing the total number of countries on this list to over 135.

"We will keep the red list category in place as a precautionary measure to protect public health and are prepared to add countries and territories back if needed, as the UK's first line of defence."

The policy for quarantine hotels will also remain in place in case guidance has to change.

However, hotel quarantine stays have come to an end for now, with people able travel to these countries without having to fork out £2,285 on an 11-night stay.

Read more: Travel update: Red list slashed to just seven countries

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"This is another step in the right direction for international travel with more good news today for passengers, businesses and the travel sector," Mr Shapps later said in a statement.

"We’re continuing to make great progress as we recover from the pandemic and today is another example of how far we have come. 

"Whether it’s reuniting family members or making it easier for businesses to trade, the success of the vaccine rollout both at home and abroad has allowed us to reach this milestone.

"However, we must not be complacent and remain ready to spring into action and defend our hard-won gains if needed."

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "I am glad we are able to reduce the travel list even further, giving a huge boost to businesses, families and friends wanting to travel.

"The red list and quarantine remain vital in protecting our borders - we are keeping a small number of quarantine rooms on standby and will not hesitate to take swift action by adding countries to the red list if the risk increases again."

Read more: Cheaper lateral flow tests replace PCRs for holidaymakers in 'huge boost' for travel

The Scottish and Welsh Government have since confirmed that they will follow the changes made to England's travel red list.

Eluned Morgan, health and social services minister for Wales, said the country would follow suit as "it is difficult for Wales to adopt different arrangements to those required by the UK Government" but warned "the pandemic is not over".

Scotland's transport minister, Graeme Dey, said: "Today’s decision is a further sign of the success of the Scottish Government’s vaccination programme and will enable the travel and tourism sector to take another step back towards normal operations."

No announcement has been made by the devolved administration in Northern Ireland, but in recent months they have mirrored Westminster's changes to travel rules.

The move puts England, Scotland and Wales in line with most of the rest of Europe and has been welcomed by travel agencies.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said there's "no justification" now for any country to be on a red list or for hotel quarantine to be in existence.

"There have been no new variants of concern since May and countries are now learning that blanket border measures, such as blocking whole countries, don't work," he said.

"The best approach is to check for an individual's vaccine status and ensure they are up to date if they want to travel without restrictions."

Hotel quarantine was first introduced as part of measures to reduce the risk from arriving travellers infected with coronavirus.

However, it has been blamed for contributing to UK travel firms struggling to recover from the pandemic.

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said the announcement was a "significant step forward to normalising international travel and should give people confidence to book".

She went on: "Ultimately, we need to return to a situation similar to prior to the pandemic, in which people can travel without further tests or forms to fill out.

"The UK and devolved governments should aim for this as soon as is safely possible."