A total of 47 countries including South Africa, Mexico and Thailand will be removed from England’s foreign travel red list, with changes also being made to Covid testing
Grant Shapps announces 47 countries removed from red list
British families will save hundreds of pounds on foreign holidays as photos of lateral flow tests replace more expensive in-person PCR tests, possibly before half-term.
The cost of a family getaway will drop by about £200 once PCR tests, which cost about £75 each, are ditched in favour of the cheaper tests which cost as little as £25.
Travellers will be required to send a photo of their negative result two days after arriving in Britain.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the change would be in place “hopefully in time for people returning from half term holidays potentially – and certainly by the end of October”.
An announcement will be made in the coming days, he said.
The switch could happen before the end of the half-term break
Mr Shapps told the Today programme: “I don’t have a date for you as yet.
“I know my colleagues over at the Department for Health and Border Force are working very hard on implementing that and hopefully in time for people returning from half term holidays potentially – and certainly by the end of October.”
He said the delay was so the industry would have time to adjust to the new system and told Sky News that the change would be announced “in the coming days”.
People arriving in the UK who take a lateral flow test to check their Covid status will have to take a photograph of it to prove the result.
If it’s positive, they will receive a PCR automatically.
“We’re going to ask people to take a photograph of it so that it’s actually your test and that’s it, the job is done, there’s nothing further to do,” he said.
“So it’s going to be a much simplified, much cheaper system.”
Asked how authorities could be sure the photographed test belonged to the right person, Mr Shapps said: “Well, look, you could always say this with any system, the PCR system that’s been in place up until now hasn’t required any monitoring at all. So you could always make that argument.
“We have throughout this crisis, though, I think relied on people’s common sense, I think most people wanted to do the right thing.”
It came as it was announced that 47 countries including South Africa, Mexico and Thailand will be removed from England’s red list on Monday.
Travellers arriving from those destinations will no longer need to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £2,285 for solo travellers.
Just seven countries will remain on the red list following the changes.
They are Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own travel rules but have recently mirrored announcements made in Westminster.
Mr 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 travelling, we can all continue to move safely forward together along our pathway to recovery.”
Mr Shapps also announced that the Government would recognise vaccines for arrivals from a further 37 countries and territories including Brazil, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey.
The decision means fully vaccinated people entering England from these locations will be exempt from quarantine, the pre-departure test and the day-eight post-arrival test.
Health 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 two of arrival, as long as they provide proof of use.”
No date has been set on when eligible fully-vaccinated arrivals will be able to use a lateral flow test for their day-two test, rather than the more expensive PCR version.
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”.
Just seven countries will remain on the red list following the changes
Travellers will be able to verify they have completed a lateral flow test by sending a photograph.
British Airways announced it will resume services and increase frequencies to a number of winter sun destinations being removed from the red list, such as Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa; Mexico City and Cancun, Mexico; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The airline’s chief executive Sean Doyle 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.”
Charlie Cornish, boss of Manchester Airports Group – which owns Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports – said: “Removing so many countries from the red list gives people the most choice they have had since before the pandemic, which will help stimulate the recovery of the UK’s prized aviation sector.”
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “It’s been a long time coming but at last we’re seeing the layers of complexity peeled away.”
Recent analysis by the PA news agency found there have been more than 50 changes to the rules for international travel during the coronavirus pandemic.