Travel update: Red list slashed to just seven countries

7 October 2021, 18:06 | Updated: 7 October 2021, 18:25

The red list has been slashed to seven countries.
The red list has been slashed to seven countries. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

England's travel red list has been slashed to just seven countries as PCR tests are replaced with lateral flow by the end of the month.

Some 47 destinations have been cut from the red list – including South Africa - with them all being included in the “rest of world” category.

The update to the travel list will come into force from 4am on Monday 11 October.

Brazil has come off the list but other south American countries like Peru and Colombia have stayed on.

They are joined by Ecuador, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Panama and Venezuela, which all remain on the red list.

The Government also announced that the inbound vaccinated arrivals system would be extended to a further 37 countries and territories including India, South Africa and Turkey, meaning eligible passengers arriving from rest of world countries will only need to take a day two test in England.

Day two tests are set to be switched from PCR to lateral flow later this month as well, but no date has been set.

The Government said its "ambition" is for this to be in place "for people returning from half-term breaks by the end of the month".

Passengers will be able to send a picture of their lateral flow test as a minimum requirement to verify test result accuracy and keep prices down.

If individuals test positive then they will be given a free PCR test to confirm their result.

Read more: Amber list scrapped as simplified travel rules come into force

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "With half-term and winter sun around the corner, we’re making it easier for families and loved ones to reunite, by significantly cutting the number of destinations on the red list, thanks in part to the increased vaccination efforts around the globe.

"Restoring people’s confidence in travel is key to rebuilding our economy and levelling up this country.

"With less restrictions and more people traveling, we can all continue to move safely forward together along our pathway to recovery."

Read more: UK travel restrictions: What is changing this week?

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Our robust border measures have helped protect the phenomenal progress of our vaccination programme, and it is because of this success both here and around the world that we can safely open up travel further and we can visit friends and family abroad.

"We’re now making it easier and cheaper for people to travel by allowing fully vaccinated travellers from non-red list countries to use Lateral Flow Tests on Day 2 of arrival, as long as they provide proof of use.”

Responding to the latest Government travel announcement, Sean Doyle, chairman and chief executive of British Airways, said: "It finally feels like we are seeing light at the end of a very long tunnel.

"Britain will benefit from this significant reduction in red list countries, and now it's time to turn our attention to eradicating testing for fully vaccinated travellers to ensure we don't lose our place on the global stage.

"Once we have a firm date for the reopening of US borders in November, we look forward to reconnecting our two countries, reigniting transatlantic businesses and reuniting families who have been separated for the best part of two years.

"We are ready, and we look forward to operating our first flights and welcoming back our customers."

Read more: Holiday bookings surge 'by 200 per cent' as rip-off Covid travel tests are scrapped

Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said: "We welcome the significant reduction of the Red list as another positive step towards normalising air travel and reopening our sector.

"This builds on recent changes that have seen travel to many more countries become easier and cheaper for passengers, progress we hope towards removing all test requirements for the fully vaccinated as soon as possible.

"However, it is disappointing for our customers to have no definitive clarity yet on when the lateral flow changes will be introduced.

"With the crucial October half-term just two weeks away we urgently need clarity so that passengers can plan ahead. This is the key booking period between now and Christmas, so time is of the essence."