Covid travel rules set to benefit double jabbed as PCR tests to be scrapped in major shake-up

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Travelling abroad should become cheaper and more straightforward for those fully vaccinated against Covid-19

Major changes to the UK rules on international travel are expected to be announced today, with double jabbed holidaymakers set to benefit.

Travelling abroad should become simpler and cheaper for those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, as ministers consider scrapping PCR tests.

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What rules could change?

The major shake-up to rules is expected to see the green and amber travel lists merge to form one category of low-risk countries.

The red list is set to stay, but it is likely the number of destinations categorised as high-risk will be reduced.

It is also understood that fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to take a pre-departure lateral flow test or a post-arrival PCR test, which would save around £100 per trip.

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It is anticipated that people arriving from red list countries will continue to be required to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel, at a cost of £2,285 for solo travellers.

The red list currently comprises 62 countries, but this is expected to be reduced following the next update.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said earlier this week that 24 countries “should be taken off”, including Pakistan, South Africa, the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Chile.

The Times has reported that Turkey would be removed from the red list, but Mr Charles said he would be “very surprised” if this was the case due to “worsening” coronavirus data.

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What rules could unvaccinated travellers face?

While the shake-up may see rules eased for double jabbed holidaymakers, those who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 will likely face tougher restrictions.

Under current rules, travellers who have not received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine must take one PCR test and are not required to self-isolate after returning to the UK from a green list destination.

However, reports suggest that under the new system, anyone who has not been fully vaccinated could be required to quarantine at home and must take two Covid-19 tests when arriving from a low-risk destination.

When would the changes take effect?

The changes to international travel rules are expected to come into force ahead of the October half-term break.

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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to make an announcement on Friday (17 September) to outline the new system.

The rules will only apply to England, although the devolved nations have implemented the same system for travel announced in Westminster, so the changes may be introduced across the whole of the UK.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Our top priority is to protect public health – decisions on our traffic light system are kept under regular review and are informed by the latest risk assessment from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and wider public health factors.”

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