UK travel red list: The countries most likely to move to amber or green

By Cathy Owen

The traffic-light system for UK travellers could come to an end at the start of next month, it has been reported.

Travelling is set to be made cheaper and more straightforward for doubled-jabbed holidaymakers under a shake-up of coronavirus rules due to be announced on Friday.

The green and amber lists are expected to be merged to form one category of low-risk countries while the number of destinations on the red list will be reduced. An announcement has been expected since Wednesday but is finally due today.

It is being reported that the system will come to an end around 1 October, with The Telegraph saying that PCR tests would not be needed for double vaccinated travellers. You can see all the latest travel updates here.

For now, the Government uses a range of factors to decide how to classify each country, including infections rates, whether there are any variants of concern there, the number of people who have been vaccinated, and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing. The Welsh Government can set its own rules but has followed the UK in every other travel announcement.

There are currently 62 locations on the red list, including Mexico, Tunisia, Turkey, and much of South America and Africa.

This week, Pakistan and the Maldives are two of the top three tip-offs to move from red to amber for UK tourists, which will come as welcome news to some. Third rumoured to switch to amber is Turkey.

Other countries which could move classification are Oman and the Domincan Republic.

Travel expert Simon Calder told BBC Radio Wales on Friday: "At the moment, the UK has pretty much the highest infection rates of any country in Europe, and yet, also, the most draconian travel restrictions. These have been in place for the past five months.

"Even if you are a low risk passenger coming in from a so-called green list country, you still have to have multiple tests and it is going to cost you more than £100.

"There are no fewer than 62 countries on the despised and loathed red list. We are expecting a transformation of those. The red list will be much reduced and I am expecting Turkey to be taken off the red list, along with places like the Maldives, Pakistan and Bangladesh."

Paul Charles, founder of the PC Agency travel consultancy, said of the possible move: “Turkey very much deserves to be on the amber list as it has some of the best Covid safety policies in place, especially in hotels and other tourist areas and has worked hard to reduce its infection rates."

How the traffic-light system works

The Government reviews the traffic light system roughly every three weeks. If the next review lands on the expected Wednesday or Thursday this week, then any changes made won’t come into effect until a few days to a week afterwards.

The lists are decided based on:

  • The percentage of a country’s population that have been vaccinated
  • The rate of infection
  • The prevalence of variants of concern
  • The country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing

For countries on the amber list, a PCR test is needed two days after arriving in the country, as well as a Covid test three days before returning. Fully vaccinated adults can skip the additional day eight PCR.

This means that for those who are double vaccinated, there isn’t much difference between amber and green list countries.

Red list countries require a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing and mandatory PCR testing on day two and eight.

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