UK government announces changes to travel traffic light system

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UK Travel trafficl light system simplified

The UK Transport Scretary, Grant Schapps, announced an overhaul of the UK’s travel traffic light system yesterday. The changes will come into effect on 4th October.

The UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on Friday that rules for travel into England will be simplified from 4 October.

Instead of the red-amber-green traffic light system, there will be a single red list and a “rest of world” group. 

This is great news for the tourism industry in Spain which can hope for a busy half-term week.

Four nation approach?

From 4 October fully vaccinated travellers entering England from countries not on the red list – including Spain – will no longer have to take a pre-departure test.

They will still have to take a PCR test two days after arrival in England. However, Shapps said that later in October a cheaper lateral flow test will replace the PCR test.

Non-vaccinated travellers will still have to take a pre-departure test, days two and eight PCR tests. They will also have to self-isolate for 10 days if returning from a non-red list country. 

With devolution across the UK, there are slight differences. Scotland, for example, signalled it would not be scrapping pre-departure tests. In a statement, the Scottish government said, “A UK government decision to implement proposals to remove the requirement for a pre-departure test in England and to use lateral flow tests on day two have not been adopted at this stage in Scotland due to significant concerns at the impact on public health.” 

Cogesa Expats

Eluned Morgan, Welsh minister for health and social services, said her government would “carefully consider” the simplified travel measures. 

“International travel continues to represent a risk of importing coronavirus infections to Wales, especially new and emerging variants of concern. Our advice continues to be that people should only travel abroad for essential reasons,” she said.

“A four-nation collaborative approach is critical to evaluate and implement effective border control arrangements”, she continued.

Travel industry and airlines positive

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said: “This is a positive step which moves us much closer to the reopening of UK aviation and provides greater reassurance to passengers desperate to travel.

“By reducing the number of red list destinations and scrapping PCR testing, ministers have paved the way for people to get away this October half-term and into the winter following 18 months of uncertainty.”

TUI UK’s managing director said the changes “remove some of the layers of complexity and expense UK holidaymakers have faced this summer”. 

He added Tui had already seen an increase in bookings for Turkey – removed from the red list – and destinations “for those looking to enjoy some winter sun” in October.


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