For governments all over the world, there’s currently a lot of pressure to get it right when it comes to easing their restrictions. With governments getting accused of easing their restrictions too quickly and too slowly, it can be hard to find that balance or acceptable pace of reopening.
The UK has had its fair share of critics with regards to both its handling of the pandemic and its pathway for reopening, but it is set to appease the doubters by allowing vaccinated travelers to visit countries without having to quarantine at home. Here’s a look at their current policies and what’s set to change.
UK’s Current Travel System Explained For Travelers
After toiling with dramatic spikes in cases and several different national lockdowns, the UK finally decided to put international travel back on the menu on May 17th. However, rather than a blanket policy of allowing all travel to restart, the UK adopted a traffic-light approach to restarting international travel to ensure that it resumed in the safest possible manner.
The traffic light system places countries into three categories – green, amber and red – depending on the Covid-19 level in each country. Travelers can visit green countries freely, whilst visits to amber countries would result in self-isolation for 10 days upon their return to the UK, and visits to red countries would see the travelers having to stay in one of the UK’s pricey quarantine hotel facilities. However, some of these rules are set to change in the coming weeks.
Changes To The System – What Travelers Should Know
At present, travelers returning from a country on the amber list – which includes many of the destinations that are popular with British travelers, such as Spain, France and the USA – would have to isolate when they get to the UK regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not. However, travelers will be relieved to hear that this is not going to be the case for much longer.
From July 19th, arrivals who have been fully vaccinated with an NHS administered vaccine in the UK (plus 14 days) and are returning from a trip to an amber list country will no longer need to quarantine. The rule change is bound to be welcomed by airlines in the UK, who have been attempting to pressure the government into making a change for weeks, citing the lower risk that vaccinated passengers carry and warning that the UK was at risk of falling further behind countries in the EU.
Speaking about the changes, the British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
“Thanks to our successful vaccine rollout, we’re now able to widen quarantine-free travel to NHS administered fully vaccinated adults and children under the age of 18, and take another step towards fully reopening international travel. As we continue with the domestic unlocking, it’s only right we get people travelling again – whether that’s for business to help create jobs, overdue holidays or reconnecting family and friends. However, protecting public health still remains our priority and we will act swiftly if action is needed.”
Vaccinated travelers return from amber countries will still be required to complete a pre-departure test before arrival into England, alongside a PCR test within two days of arrival. They must also ensure they have proof of vaccination. The countries currently on the green, amber and red lists can be found here.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories