The Red List that was introduced with much fanfare a few weeks ago by the UK Government… has been thrown out to the four winds again.
All 11 remaining countries from the UK’s red list from 4 am tomorrow (15 December 2021), following a review of the latest risk assessment from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
At the time of writing, these are
- South Africa
The move comes as Omicron cases rise in the UK and countries around the world, the travel red list is less effective in slowing the incursion of the variant from abroad and these temporary measures are no longer proportionate.
The government says the red list has served its purpose in delaying the spread of Omicron into the UK to buy time for the government to learn more about this variant and prepare for its potential impact.
As from 04:00 15th December (tomorrow morning at the time of writing), all vaccinated passengers arriving in the UK must take a pre-departure test (PCR or lateral flow) 2 days before they depart for the UK and must take a PCR test on or before day 2 and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
Unvaccinated passengers must also take a pre-departure test, PCR test on days 2 and 8, and self-isolate for 10 days. Test to release remains an option to shorten their self-isolation period.
In a simple line written by the government, for the pain, confusion to passengers and lost bookings & confidence caused, they add
The government recognises the impact that temporary health measures have on the travel and aviation industry.
Note, there is no notice of funding, shortfall or support for any of the travel industries because of the government’s actions.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:
Now there is community transmission of Omicron in the UK and Omicron has spread so widely across the world the travel Red List is now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad.
Whilst we’ll maintain our temporary testing measures for international travel, we will be removing all eleven countries from the travel Red List effective from 4am tomorrow morning.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
With community transmission here as well as similar rates around the world, it’s right that we remove the 11 countries from our red list and these changes are the next sensible steps as we continue to tackle this variant.
We remain focused on meeting our booster target for all adults by the end of the year, and while we will keep our travel testing measures in place for now, we will review this position in the first week of January.
Onto the sticky issue of Managed Hotel Quarantine
While all countries have now been removed from the red list, the managed quarantine hotel policy remains in place to act as a line of defence against the importation of variants of concern. Restrictions will be re-imposed should there be a need to do so to protect public health.
For some, that meant spending a lot of money overnight for nothing.
According to the government, anyone who has tested positive will need to continue to stay in Managed Quarantine.
For those in managed quarantine, they are “working urgently” to make arrangements for individuals’ early release from Managed Quarantine. Guidance for this will be set out shortly, although there is nothing at the time of writing.
Passengers who booked a hotel room in Managed Quarantine for use after 4 am Wednesday 15 December are entitled to a full refund and should contact their hotel operator or booking operator.
Next review date
As usual, the changes are subject to review. These measures – the red list, testing for arrivals and self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers – will be reviewed again early in the new year on 5th January 2022.
The testing measures however are still in force. These have not been rolled back, meaning you will need to test as appropriate to enter the United Kingdom.
The guidance for England is at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-to-england-from-another-country-during-coronavirus-covid-19. Alternative guidance exists for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
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