UK travel: all countries removed from Covid-19 red list - but Government keeps it in place as ‘precaution’

The Transport Minister Grant Shapps tweeted that arrivals from the last 7 countries on the red list would no longer be required to stay in a quarantine hotel

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The Government has removed all countries from its Covid-19 travel ‘red list’, meaning arrivals to England and Wales will no longer have to have quarantine hotel stays.

It follows speculation on Thursday that the move was likely, with the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow thought to have been a key factor in the decision.

Announced on Twitter by Transport Minister Grant Shapps, the change will come into effect from 4am on Monday (1 November).

Mr Shapps also revealed the Government will now recognise Covid-19 vaccines for arrivals from more than 30 new countries, bringing the total in excess of 135.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • The Transport Minister Grant Shapps said the remaining 7 countries on the list - Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela - would be removed from 4am on Monday 1 November.
  • This action means travellers from these countries who are coming to England will no longer be required to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel, bringing it in line with the rest of Europe.
  • However, Mr Shapps has stopped short of scrapping the red list entirely, insisting it needed to be kept in place “as a precautionary measure to protect public health”. It means countries could be put back on it in future.
  • He has also announced the UK will recognise vaccines from more than 30 new countries, including Peru and Uganda. It brings the total of countries with vaccine recognition to over 135.
  • These measures are currently for England only, although the Welsh Government confirmed it would also adopt them. Scotland and Northern Ireland have yet to make their decision but have previously mirrored England’s travel policy.
Transport Minister Grant Shapps said the change to the Covid-19 travel ‘red list' will come into effect from 4am on Monday (1 November) (image: Getty Images)Transport Minister Grant Shapps said the change to the Covid-19 travel ‘red list' will come into effect from 4am on Monday (1 November) (image: Getty Images)
Transport Minister Grant Shapps said the change to the Covid-19 travel ‘red list' will come into effect from 4am on Monday (1 November) (image: Getty Images)

What they said

The news has been welcomed by the travel industry.

UK travel industry trade body ABTA’s Director of Communications, Graeme Buck, said: “ABTA has been calling for the Government to keep the red list under review and act swiftly to remove countries when there is a reduced threat of COVID-19, so it’s great to see the Government responding to these calls today.

“This news, together with the introduction of day two lateral flow tests instead of PCRs for fully vaccinated travellers returning to England – and Scotland and Wales from 31 October – means the process of booking and travelling on a foreign holiday is now cheaper and easier.”

Chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, Karen Dee, told PA that the announcement was a “significant step forward to normalising international travel and should give people confidence to book”.

“Ultimately, we need to return to a situation similar to prior to the pandemic, in which people can travel without further tests or forms to fill out,” she added.

“The UK and devolved governments should aim for this as soon as is safely possible.”

Ms Dee was echoed by head of the Business Travel Association, Clive Wratten, who warned travellers still faced uncertainty due to the ongoing existence of the red list.

“The removal of all countries from the red list is appreciated,” he said.

“However, the lurking threat of further introductions to this list and the continued existence of quarantine hotels means that it does not give travellers the confidence that they need.”

Additional reporting by PA

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