Summary of updates to international travel, October 2021

As trailed in my Oral Statement on 20 September, as of the 4 October, we have:

  • replaced the traffic light system with a single red list and simplified travel measures for
    eligible arrivals from the rest of the world based on passengers’ vaccination status
  • removed the requirement for eligible fully vaccinated passengers to take a pre-departure
    test, providing that they are arriving into England from a non-red list country or territory and
    have not been to a red list country or territory in the last 10 days – the Devolved
    Administrations have also aligned on this policy

We have also made the following changes in respect of international travel:

Lateral flow devices for arrival tests

From 4am on 24 October, arrivals into England who are considered fully vaccinated, along with most under 18s, who have not been in a red list country in the last 10 days will be able to take a lateral flow test on or before day 2 of their arrival, instead of a PCR test. This change will cut the costs of tests in time for travellers returning from half-term breaks and these tests can be booked from 22 October.

Passengers will need to take a photo of their lateral flow test result and send it back to their
private testing provider for verification. Anyone who tests positive will need to self-isolate and take a free NHS confirmatory PCR test.

Red list review

The government has conducted the first review of the red list under our new and simplified system of international travel. As of 4am on Monday 11 October, 47 countries including South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Thailand were removed from the red list.

Given the success of the vaccination programme in the UK and the latest evidence of variants across the world, including the fact that the Delta variant is now dominant in many countries as it is in the UK, we have been able to significantly reduce the red list. However, we remain concerned about the presence of Mu and Lambda variants in the small number of countries we have kept on the red list. We will keep this list under review.

The following 7 countries and territories now make up the red list:

  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Haiti
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Venezuela

All passengers arriving into England from a red list country, or those who have been in a red list country or territory in the last 10 days, will have to quarantine at a managed quarantine service facility for 10 days upon their arrival in England.

Expansion of the inbound vaccination policy

As of 4am on Monday 11 October, we also expanded our inbound vaccination policy to include eligible fully vaccinated passengers who have not been in a red list country in the 10 days before their arrival into England, to the below countries:

  • Albania
  • Bahamas
  • Bangadesh
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Colombia
  • Egypt
  • Ghana
  • Grenada
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Kosovo
  • Maldives
  • Moldova
  • Morocco
  • Nigeria
  • North Macedonia
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Serbia
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • Vietnam

In addition, we have expanded the policy to a further set of countries and territories which were removed from the red list at this review:

  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Georgia
  • Indonesia
  • Montenegro
  • Namibia
  • The Philippines
  • South Africa
  • Thailand

Our inbound vaccination policy now covers over 100 countries and territories, and eligible fully vaccinated passengers will be treated the same as those vaccinated in the UK. Eligible fully vaccinated passengers who have not been in a red list country in the 10 days before their arrival into England will no longer need to take a pre-departure test before their departure, a post-arrival test on day 8 or self-isolate upon their arrival. This now includes UN staff and volunteers vaccinated as part of the United Nations vaccine rollout.

Clinical trial participants

From the end of October, we will also recognise as fully vaccinated people participating in
COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials from countries and territories including Japan, Canada, Australia and the EU, provided they can supply adequate proof of their participation. This is in recognition of their vital work in helping to tackle the virus and builds on the agreements made at the meetings with G7 counterparts that I chaired in May and September this year.

Acceptance of UK pre-departure test certification via the EU Digital COVID Certificate

As of 4am on Monday 11 October, non-vaccinated passengers arriving into England are allowed to present proof of a negative pre-departure test via the EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC), in either paper or digital formats.

Changes to FCDO travel advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has lifted its advice against all but essential travel for over 80 countries and territories. The change means people will be able to travel to a larger number of destinations with greater ease.

The FCDO will no longer advise against travel to non-red list countries on COVID-19 grounds, except in exceptional circumstances such as if the local healthcare system is overwhelmed. Many travel insurance companies use FCDO travel advice as a reference point in their policies – typically excluding cover for places where government advises against essential travel, however people will now be able to purchase travel insurance for a wider range of destinations across the globe.

The FCDO will continue to advise against all but essential travel for all red list countries and
territories, where the risk to British travellers is ‘unacceptably high’.

Whilst public health is a devolved matter, the government works closely with the devolved
administrations on any changes to international travel and aims to ensure a whole UK approach.

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.