The United Kingdom announced on Friday that it will simplify its restrictions on international travel and will no longer require a coronavirus test prior to traveling to England for vaccinated people from low-risk countries.
The announcement was made by Transport Minister Grant Shapps who said that from 4 October, the travel traffic light that classified countries according to three risk categories will be abolished and only a list of those countries allocated to a red zone will remain, for which the travel restrictions will be much stricter.
There will no longer an amber category, which included Spain, so travellers who have had their two vaccinations will no longer have to present a negative test for COVID-19.
The British government said that with these measures it aims to “reduce the cost of travel”, while continuing to protect public health. The Transport Minister said that a “simpler” system will now be introduced for the traveller.
On his Twitter account he added, “Later I will establish measures to simplify international travel in order to reduce costs, take advantage of the higher levels of vaccination and keep us all safe.”
“The change will take effect on 4 October, with a view to also modifying the post-arrival protocols, so that the mandatory two-day PCR test can in future be replaced by the much cheaper lateral flow antigen test”, said Schapps.
Spain, France and Italy are now classified as low risk countries
European states such as Spain, France, Italy and Portugal, currently on the amber list, will be classified as low risk countries.
The reduction of the restrictions is a key element needed to dispel the main uncertainty that hoteliers have going into the final few months of the year, which focuses on the need to start international tourism. The United Kingdom is the main source market for international tourism for the province, representing 30% of all airport arrivals and a similar proportion in the business share for hotels.
British authorities have also agreed to remove eight countries from the maximum risk ‘Red’ group starting from Tuesday, including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives, according to the minister.
For those countries that are currently identified in red, the United Kingdom has established a quarantine and testing system that costs more than 2,200 pounds (almost 2,700 euros per person).
Latin American states, such as Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, will continue for now in that red category. Travelers who have been in these countries during the ten days prior to their departure will only be able to enter England if they have British nationality or a residence permit in the United Kingdom.
One of the first major travel companies to respond to Friday afternoon’s announcement was Jet2holidays which reported a spike in bookings following the update.
Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2holidays said: “The Traffic Light system has been confusing and completely unfit for purpose since day one. We welcome a new approach which is easy for everyone to understand and provides certainty.”
“There has been an immediate and massive surge in bookings for package holidays on the back of this welcome news for holidaymakers and independent travel agents in England. We expect the Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive to update their advice too and we look forward to this.”