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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)

  • Mark says:

    Anyone able to explain how much evidence is needed for a lateral flow test pre departure? I mean, it can hardly be one you do at home, can it?

    • Steven P says:

      The private tests you take for flying are accompanied with a ‘Fit to Fly’ certificate which is what the airlines are trained to look for as documentary proof of a negative test.

      So no, the free home kits won’t do that I’m afraid. You have to go private for a test, where they offer both lateral flow and PCR. Choice depends on rules at your inbound country

      • TGLoyalty says:

        There’s no mention of free one you do at home in OPs question.

        Answer is ones done at home are acceptable just like PCR tests done at home.

        • Sideshowbob says:

          But not the NHS ones

          • Matarredonda says:

            Correct as know somebody who caught out using the NHS free test kits.

        • Rich says:

          As Steven says, you need a certificate showing the details specified on the .gov website including your details, type of test, name of doctor, specificity of the test method etc. I just went through it all flying back from Spain, used the VeriFLY app via BA and checkin was a breeze for me whereas others were getting out all sorts of paperwork, opening the NHS app for vaccine status.

      • Matarredonda says:

        You can get it done pre departure at most airports

  • John says:

    Interesting. Looking at potential destinations for the first week in September. Thinking Ljubljana might be a bit more possible now, if there’s any way to fly there of course…

    • meta says:

      Fly to Zagreb, it’s only 2-3h drive from there.

      • John says:

        Why on earth would you drive when a train is 10 euros

        • meta says:

          The train takes 6h30. Fine if you have that amount of time and want to spend most of the day on the train.

          • John says:

            No it doesn’t. It takes 3.5 hours. Driving may take 6 hours if they decide they don’t like you at the border. Plus an extra few hundred euros to the hire company for cross border driving

          • fivebobbill says:

            Don’t know what this train journey is like nowadays, but I did it about 10 years ago on a football trip, quite surreal having to get off the train twice at separate concrete platforms, just a few hundred metres apart in the middle of nowhere, so the Croatia/Slovenia border police can inspect your documents. I recall feeling a little bit uneasy at the time, not the friendliest bunch…

      • Bagoly says:

        In normal times, yes.
        But Croatia is presumably on Amber list.

    • MilesOnPoint says:

      BA have direct flights from Heathrow to Ljubljana several times a week in September…

      • meta says:

        They do, but a bit unreliable. The route is due to restart on 30 August. Off-beat destinations are not a priority for BA.

  • Stuart says:

    So I can fly to Mexico, stay there for 14 days and then fly to the US without issue. But I can’t fly to the US from here or fly back here from Mexico. Makes total sense

    • BlueHorizonUk says:

      You then have to stay in the US for 10 days before coming back to the U.K. as the rules specifically ask if you have been to a red county in the previous 10 days.

      So you would need to be in Mexico for 14 Days and then the US for 10 days and then be able to come home.

    • Andrew says:

      Yes, Biden really needs to sort all this out and open up to Europeans.

      • Lady London says:

        I’d say he could be working on it much sooner.
        Though for the US surely the problem’s gonna be :-

        How to find an insurer who is going to insure a traveller for potential Covid related medical expenses in the USA?

      • Chris Heyes says:

        Andrew I don’t see your logic, why does Biden need to sort it out ?
        Americans don’t really need Europeans, its a big enough county to absorb it’s own tourism.
        I would go as far as to say we Europeans “need” America, but certainly America doesn’t need us ?

        • Sideshowbob says:

          We don’t really need Americans in the UK. We have people from plenty of other countries.

        • Andrew says:

          My logic was that he needs to sort it out for us to go there, nothing to do with Boris. He doesn’t “need” to sort it out, but it would be nice if he did.

    • Manya says:

      Would appreciate if someone with any certainty could confirm. Currently in Mexico due to return on Saturday flight which lands on Sunday post the 4am BST curfew.

      I departed UK on the 23rd July so I would be 14 days clear of being in the UK on the 7th August. I would realistically need to take a flight from US or Mexico early on 7th so it lands back in UK on the 8th before 4am?

      Any other options which I haven’t considered? Any help is appreciated!!

      • BlueHorizonUk says:

        If you land in the U.K. after 4am on Sunday and have been in Mexico for any of the previous 10 days even it’s hotel quarantine irrespective of when you left.

        You need to fly back before 4am Sunday or go to a Amber country for 10 days to avoid hotel quarantine.

    • Henry says:

      Harry Kane and his family seem to be able to do Bermuda/Florida without any issue. ANd not bother turning up for ‘work’

      • Number9 says:

        Don’t be silly
        Covid and it’s rules don’t apply to the rich and wealthy. I read that Madonna has been to over 40 countries since pandemic started. I would just like to get to Dubai next January.

        • John says:

          I could also have gone to 40 countries if I didn’t mind spending 6 months in hotels.

    • Anna says:

      And Colombia, where the new variant has arisen which has put Mexico on the red list!!

  • Blenz101 says:

    Happy tonight. Finally some sense, even if no science.

    Now why are the UK giving vaccines to young 16yo students when the developing world is losing lives to those vulnerable to the virus.

    • Lady London says:

      Because the transmission is taking place particularly in the younger age groups now – which in itself is a risk even if those hosts tend to hardly be affected by it.
      If they are not vaccinated it basically gives the virus a place to live. From where it can sneak out anytime and attack – either someone vulnerable (as not all are able to be vaccinated) or by using its host to vary itself and try a new approach.

      so young people are a “vector” or a “sink” of infection -hence the vaccination requirement as we leave a flank wide open if not. Though personally, I’m with you on have we gone far enough and should we have tested this some more now.

      I love your comment about at least some sense even if not science btw 🙂

      • TGLoyalty says:

        The most important thing is the child’s health NOT someone else’s.

        • Tracey says:

          We vaccinate children against flu, to prevent the spread, yet flu doesn’t make children seriously ill. The precedent has already been made.

          • Dr Shark says:

            Flu vaccinations for children are based on parental consent, are subject to no pressure and so on. The overreaction to Covid 19 is extreme and such confections are unhelpful.

          • Andrew says:

            I think flu is actually more dangerous to children than covid-19. The flu vaccination is also far better tested and less risky than the covid-19 one.

            The decision to vaccinate has to based on individual risk. Is the risk of disease to that individual worse than the risk of vaccination to them? No parent or grandparent would want to give a vaccination to a child which carries a greater risk than the disease itself even if it would confer some additional protection to the older generation.

        • Dave1985 says:

          Children don’t really get ill from covid

          • Rob says:

            Death rate is, last time I saw a number, 1 in 2 million for young kids.

            The problem is that the Pfizer jab causes heart issues, which can in extreme cases be fatal, in 1 in 20,000 children IIRC. All that is changing is the view of how rare these ‘extreme’ cases are, in a positive way.

            Bottom line is that little kids like to see their grandparents and a vaccinated 80 year has the same death risk as an unvaccinated 50 year old, ie far from nil.

          • C says:

            It’s not true that children don’t get ill from COVID. My 20 month old tested positive for COVID last week, and had a 40+ C fever for 48 hours, a coughing fit every 10 minutes, terrible sinus pain and pressure, and no appetite. She is just now (9 days after testing positive) returning to normal. The GP thought that all of this was quite normal for a child with COVID. This is quite certainly a real illness for children, even the youngest.

          • Tariq says:

            Neither do the majority of adults.

    • Mike says:

      Because the impact on most of the developing world from COVID has been minimal compared to the western world.

      Let’s compare a 1st world country beginning with U to a 3rd world country beginning with you…

      United Kingdom
      Population – 67m
      COVID cases – 5.93m
      Deaths – 130k

      Uganda
      Population – 44m
      COVID cases – 95k
      Deaths – 2.75k

      Hhhmm, which one needs to complete it’s vaccination programme first.

      Also, the African countries have thrown away several million doses so far. Also, they’ve struggled to administer the doses they have been given, some of the difficulties have been down to infrastructure but in South Africa, for example, it’s been down to incompetence and stupidity.

      The UK has exported many millions of doses out of the UK so far, and didn’t implement an export ban like some countries. It gave over 1/2 billion pounds to COVAX, said it will give 100 million doses to poor countries over the next 12 months and last week announced it will ship 7 million doses immediately. This all from a country that at the start of the pandemic had only a single vaccine plant in the entire country and that plant only made flu shots.

      We’ve stepped up and done more than most through the government funding, scientific research, AZ vaccine sold at cost and licenced to be manufactured in 15 countries and 25 sites, testing of drug candidates finding effective cheap treatments like dexamethasone etc.

      So yeah, let’s vaccinate those vulnerable here, catching COVID even when young can have devastating consequences (long covid, hospitalisation, death).

      • John says:

        African countries have low cases because they aren’t testing. But also logically with younger populations and lots of other things to die from besides covid they would probably be less affected even if they did spend billions buying inaccurate tests from China

        • Mike says:

          Irrespective of testing rates, if their deaths rates were anything close to the UK’s or USA’s the Guardian wouldn’t shut up about how evil we are for not letting UK citizens die to save the more worthy in Africa.

      • Matarredonda says:

        Not sure you can rely on 3rd world stats for Covid as they do not have the health infrastructure the so called developed world has.

      • SteveD says:

        Why is Uganda on the Red list then?

  • Simon says:

    Return from Spain fit to fly PCR is a suggestion or a requirement ?!? Seems a little bit vague !

    • Matthew Jenkins says:

      Suggestion only. A lateral flow / antigen test is fine

  • ChrisW says:

    Very strange that Turkey didn’t make the amber list if India did.

    I wonder what the situation will be with travel this coming winter. It will be the real test of the vaccines. Presumably cases will rise as people move indoors and if there’s another lockdown presumably there will be another travel ban too.

    Even if UAE is on the green list by Christmas, I wonder if Brits will actually be allowed to travel then.

    I know BoJo says Freedom Day was irreversible but who actually knows what the future will bring….

  • dave says:

    whats the cheapest day 2 test available
    thanks

  • Asim says:

    India had the 2nd highest number of weekly cases in the world but is moved to Amber. Doesn’t make sense.

    Even if done by cases per million of the population many countries performing better than India are still red.

    Glad Middle Eastern airline options are open now.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Delta is no longer a VOC for the U.K. as it’s prevalent here?

    • Andy says:

      As the delta variant is endemic here, there’s no reason at all for India to stay on red list. Keeping a lot of these countries on red due to cases of a variant we have makes no sense.

      • Jonathan says:

        A lot of lottery tickets being purchased in India every day. Sooner or later odds are someone will win the super variant “jackpot”.

        Case numbers should count for something, especially in a country with far from universal testing & patchy sequencing.

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