Transport secretary Grant Shapps has just announced that from Monday 11 October, 47 destinations – including South Africa – will be scrapped from the UK Government’s travel red list. Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela will remain on it.
The secretary also added that rules for those visiting the UK from 37 countries – including as India and Turkey – will become easier. “I’m also making changes so travellers visiting England have fewer entry requirements, by recognising those with fully-vaccinated status, […] treating them as UK fully vaccinated passengers,” he tweeted.
“The measures announced today mark the next step as we continue to open up travel and provide stability for passengers and industry while remaining on track to keep travel open for good.”
UPDATE: From Monday (11th Oct) 📅 I’ll be cutting 47 destinations from our red list – including South Africa, with just 7 countries and territories remaining ⚠️ – all others will be included in the “rest of world” category 🌐 [1/3]
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) October 7, 2021
“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,” Shapps added in a press statement from the Department for Transport.
The secretary’s announcement follows the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s (FCDO) decision to relax travel advice for 32 countries – including Gambia, Bangladesh and Malaysia – lifting restriction on all but essential travel on Covid-19 grounds.
“These rule tweaks will make travelling more straightforward, supporting businesses and families right across Britain – and allow more of us to see friends and loved ones with greater peace of mind,” said Foreign secretary Liz Truss.
“We’re striking the right balance between keeping people safe which remains our priority and giving them the freedom to exercise personal responsibility, while supporting the travel sector as it continues to recover.”
The travel sector rejoiced at the news and did not hesitate to reinstate travel routes, with British Airways resuming services to countries such as South Africa and Mexico from November.
“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,” said British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle.
A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson added that to fully boost trade and tourism the UK aviation sector is waiting on a handful of countries to reopen their borders.
“We look forward to receiving the date for the reopening of the US border for fully vaccinated international visitors as soon as possible, allowing the UK to strengthen ties with our most important economic partner, boosting trade and tourism as well as reuniting friends, families and business colleagues.”
While several companies were pleased with the government’s latest decision, other stakeholders argued that reducing Covid-testing for vaccinated passengers is the next logical step.
“Enabling passengers to use lateral flow tests, rather than PCR, on day 0-2 of their arrival in the UK will help to reduce the cost and complexity of testing, which is why the Government should, as soon as possible, confirm the date for when the change will be applied,” said London City Airport’s chief executive Robert Sinclair. “This would help to boost passenger demand and confidence ahead of the October half term.”
The government’s decisions come a few days after the UK Government simplified travel rules, effectively ending the traffic light’s system.