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Travel list changes announced – UAE and France return to Amber, Spain remains Amber

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With slightly obscure timing, the Government tweeted out changes to the Green, Amber and Red travel lists at 10pm on Wednesday.

The big news for many is that France, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have moved to the Amber list. This means that Middle Eastern holidays are back on this Autumn for anyone in England who is fully vaccinated, and France is once again open for British tourists.

Green and Amber travel list changes unveiled

Here are the changes in full:

Good news:

  • Moving from Amber to Green: Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania, Norway
  • Moving from Red to Amber: India, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE
  • Moving from Amber Plus to Amber: France

Bad news:

  • Moving from Amber to Red: Georgia, Mexico, La Reunion, Mayotte

These changes take effect from 4am on Sunday 8th August.

It is important to remember that just because a country is on the Green or Amber list, it does not mean that England residents are allowed to enter. You should check the entry requirements on gov.uk.

With Amber being the same as Green for fully vaccinated travellers, the set of seven countries moving to Green has minimal impact for most people. I believe that Latvia and Slovakia are the only two countries which will admit unvaccinated visitors from England without quarantine.

Moving France back onto the Amber list opens up the country for tourism again, although you need to question the wisdom of moving it in the first place if it can be moved back so quickly.

Sean Doyle, British Airways CEO, said in a statement:

“This week we’ve witnessed emotional airport scenes as restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers from the US and EU were finally lifted, allowing loved ones to safely reunite.

“We welcome more low-risk countries being added to the Green list but urge the Government to go further, end uncertainty and allow people to benefit from our world-leading vaccination programme. The UK’s economic recovery is reliant on a thriving travel sector and right now we’re lagging behind Europe, with our more stringent testing requirements and a Red list significantly broader than our European peers.”

Green and Amber travel list changes unveiled

Extra testing ‘suggestions’ for Spain

It is reported that arrivals from Spain are “advised” to take a PCR test rather than a lateral flow as a ‘fit to fly’ test before boarding an aircraft back to the UK. This has no legal impact and simply adds additional complexity and confusion.

Current testing requirements

These are the testing and quarantine requirements currently in place:

Green countries: You will need to take a pre-departure test (can be lateral flow) as well as a PCR test on or before day 2 of your return into England. You will not need to quarantine unless or take additional tests unless your tests come back positive.

Amber countries: You will need to take a pre-departure test before returning to England and must quarantine at home for 10 days, taking a PCR test on day 2 and day 8. You can choose to take an additional PCR test on day 5 under the optional ‘Test to Release’ scheme, which allow you to end your quarantine early.  Returnees who are double vaccinated at least 14 days before they return from an Amber country, plus any accompanying children under 18, are treated as if returning from a Green country.

Red countries: You will be subject to a 10-day quarantine in a managed quarantine hotel, with testing prior to your arrival in England as well as on day 2 and day 8. You cannot reduce your quarantine period and must pay for the hotel.

Red list quarantine is going up by £500

In a further attempt to discourage people returning from Red list countries, the cost of quarantine is going up from £1,750 to £2,285 from 12th August. A 2nd adult staying in the same room will be an additional £1,430.

For most people it will be cheaper – and far more pleasant – to spend 10 days in a Green or Amber list country on your way back to England from a Red list country.

You can find out more about the list changes on gov.uk here.

Comments (218)

  • J says:

    Moving France to amber and La Reunion to red seems as much as of an admission to a mistake as we’ll ever get from this government.

  • Anon says:

    Green is not the same as amber for double vaccinated travellers despite what the article claims.

    The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to amber list countries. This has not changed. Tourism is the very definition of non-essential travel. The FCDO is not advising against non-essential travel to green list countries.

    • Andy says:

      That’s not quite true. FCDO advice is separate to the list. So FCDO has been saying it’s fine to go for Germany for a few weeks even though it was on Amber

    • TimM says:

      Yes, the systems for going and coming back are totally independent of each other. Traffic lights are only for returning to the UK. FCDO more weighty advice, affecting travel insurance etc., is about travelling to and staying in a country or area. It is most unfortunate that the Government has not been able to integrate these two systems into one simple set of clear advice and rules.

      • JDB says:

        I think you have answered your own question! It might seem easier to integrate the two systems, but it would make no sense. The way we operate the two systems is logical and is used by many countries that also have respected foreign travel advice (FCDO for the UK) including the US and France. The risk to you as a traveller going to x country is simply not the same as the risk you may / may not pose to UK public health on your return.

    • JDB says:

      As @Andy says the traffic lights and FCDO are not entirely aligned, which is intentional as they represent an assessment of different risks.

    • Harry T says:

      You’re wrong. The FCDO advice is separate and distinct from the random country generator list.

      • JDB says:

        Harry – on the “random country generator”, it certainly looks like that! I haven’t looked at it, but I heard Grant Shapps on the radio this morning saying the data (from an independent committee) on which he bases his decisions is all published.

        • Anna says:

          The whole of Spain (to mention just one country) is Amber but has no FCDO travel warnings now. Also until a few months ago the advice differed between regions.

  • Rafal Gutaj says:

    Hi Rob, any ideas when/if BA will put more planes onto Dubai… looks like they only have 1/2 flights a week and thats only in a few weeks time.

    Would make sense for them to bring planes onto that route asap now I would have thoughts?

    • KP says:

      I’m waiting on the same and have been refreshing the BA site every hour! looking to travel end of Aug

      • Rob says:

        I would guess it is slightly harder to add long haul aircraft quickly due to lack of available aircraft, pilots (who are up to speed on flight hours and don’t need simulator time) and crew (same).

        August is also obviously massively off-peak for Dubai so I doubt they will be in a hurry. Emirates will undoubtedly be rushing to fill the gaps.

      • Andrew says:

        Amber list or no amber list, no one wants to go to Dubai in August, so BA will wait until the autumn before ramping up the number of flights – I’m sure the October half term will be a bonanza.

        • Paul says:

          Actually, I’d love to go to Dubai. Yes, it’s hot, but if all you’re doing is lying by a pool…..

  • Taylor says:

    Green country. Pre-departure test. Can you just take a lateral flow from the UK with you and use that to return?
    Also what happens if your predeparture test is positive are you stranded in that country until you are negative?

    • Taylor says:

      In fact I’m a bit confused. If you are travelling to a green country. Do you need to take a test in the destination country before you can return?

      • Rob says:

        Yes, and another – PCR – as soon as you land (or by Day 2).

    • Rob says:

      No, because it has to be overseen by a medical professional and the appropriate paperwork produced in a form the UK Government allows airlines to accept.

      (You can take a Qured test with you.)

      Yes for point two.

      • Waribai says:

        I took a C19 test with me to Portugal and uploaded the result along with a photo of my passport. I received the all clear certificate a few hours later and that was fine for re-entering the UK.

  • Freddy says:

    Keep on seeing the government saying they can’t rule out sticking Spain onto the red list. Would they even have enough hotel rooms if Spain was put on the red list with no warning at the moment?!

  • Duncan Orr says:

    Daily Telegraph…
    “Ministers require that international arrivals take PCR tests due to the need to monitor variants of concern through genomic sequencing. Cheaper lateral flow tests cannot deliver this conclusion. This extra functionality comes at a cost. At around £60-120 per test, PCR tests are not cheap. In the three weeks from 1 July, passengers spent upwards of £35 million on around 500,000 such tests.

    However, recently published Government Test and Trace data shows that only 6,977 of those half a million international arrival tests returned positive results. Staggeringly, only 354 of the positive PCR samples were sent off for genomic sequencing.

    That is 5 per cent of positive international arrival samples being used for their intended purpose. To set it in context, back in February the figure was 50 per cent. Given the beta rate in France was such a concern last month, you’d have thought we would have prioritised sequencing for those arrivals. Not at all; of the 205 Covid cases through arrivals, only 10 got sequenced for this variant.

    This begs the question why international travellers are shelling out around £100,000 for every test that the Government sends off for sequencing.”

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