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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)

  • SammyJ says:

    I’m struggling to understand Emirates website flex policy – if I book the lowest priced economy ticket to depart next weekend, but then can’t travel for any reason (eg bad PCR result) is it refundable/changeable or not? One thing seems to say it is, another says not!

    And I believe all we need to get to Dubai is a PCR each, not home tested, is that all?

    • KP says:

      Im looking at their policy too and I dont get it

      It says refund is allowed… one place it says full refund… another place it says as per ticket conditions.

      I’m confused !!

    • KP says:

      Dubai needs PCR test yes

      • SammyJ says:

        It’s only the PCR putting me off – 3 of us recently recovered so there’s a chance of a positive for quite a while with the PCR even tho it’s long gone. If I knew I could get a refund or at least a voucher/rebooking I’d take the chance!

        • Mark says:

          Just take a test now and see if positive?

          • SammyJ says:

            Will they do another PCR on us all just a few weeks after already having positive results? Didn’t think it would be possible to get one, and a bit tight on time as I plan to travel next week!
            LFTs are negative as expected but apparently PCR can test pos for several months.

          • Bagoly says:

            I don’t see why not.
            I thought NHS testing was available no questions asked?

      • SammyJ says:

        KP, livechat with Emirates says that I can cancel up to 6hrs before and get a full refund as the normal conditions are waived

        • fivebobbill says:

          With BA having cancelled my flights 3 times now Sammy, I have just booked an Emirates “Economy Saver” (one up from Economy Simple) return to Dubai last night, the terms in the confirmation say no charge for changes, but 150 euro to cancel and refund. Hoping I won’t have to do either but if so I hope your information above is correct.

          Just to add for anyone who didn’t know, Emirates are providing fairly comprehensive FREE Covid insurance cover for your entire trip when you book one of their flights

  • Liz Forrest says:

    Fully vaccinated people can now go to Dubai taking a PCR test up to 72 hours before flying, do we get one before leaving Dubai also ? And do we need to have one when we get back to the U.K. ? All very confusing. Appreciate if someone knows the drill. Thank you

    • SammyJ says:

      Looks like it’s a private PCR needed before going to Dubai, can’t be a home one (not sure how they know).
      Returning to the UK it’s standard amber now, so a LFT in the 3 days before returning (LivingCare £25 is easiest and cheapest), followed by a Day 2 PCR if fully jabbed.
      If not jabbed then it’s also a Day 8 test and 10 day quarantine.

    • Andrew says:

      Not sure what’s confusing? All travellers to the U.K. are required to test before departure.

    • Duncan Orr says:

      What’s teh position for unvaccinated 16 year olds?

  • Jason says:

    So I’m due to fly out to Mexico on 13th August as staying for 15 nights to travel on to USA and stay for 2 months……..so will ba cancel my outbound flight to Cancun or as they have people to bring home keep the flights running for a few weeks? If they do cancel do they have to still somehow get me to Mexico or as move to red list can they just cancel? Any previous experience / advise much appreciated.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      They don’t have to cancel but they might

      Yes they would need to re route. Good luck.

    • Zanderblue says:

      @Jason,
      We are in exactly same position ☹️. We had flights on 24th August cancelled and have been scrambling about trying to rearrange new dates. Be interesting to see what BA does now with flights….

  • Dave1985 says:

    Good news!

    Less reason for the moaners to moan now! Book a holiday folks!

  • Chrisasaurus says:

    Am I correct that there are no rules requiring a test before departing from the UK – other than any requirements for entry to the country of destination?

    • Matt says:

      Correct. They will check your vaccination status though

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Who will?

        There is no requirement from the U.K. governments to have a negative test nor vaccine to get on a plane

        The requirement for either is based on what your destination wants.

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        Thx all, makes sense – and Spain very kindly only need a vaccination proof so I’m off!

    • Jonathan says:

      Yes, that’s correct.

      • Ben says:

        Is that right? Im booked to go to Spain on the 23rd Aug but seemed too easy just to flash my NHS app (that im vax).
        And then coming home is just a LFT before departure and day 2 test

  • Sandgrounder says:

    Latvia will not allow entry from the UK without quarantine unless you are vaccinated. The same error was made on the BBC as well
    https://www.spkc.gov.lv/lv/media/15379/download

    • Sandgrounder says:

      Vaccinated or recovered.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        That covers 93% of adults then.

        • Richard says:

          It does. But even then there are unfortunate exceptions like me and 15000 other Novavax trial participants. Vaccinated but not recognised as not approved.

          • Tracey says:

            I thought they were sorting out certificates for those that had participated in trials? Sorry you are not being assisted with this, when you should have been the first in line.

        • Dave1985 says:

          Full vaccinated surely? Which is around 70ish %

          • Dave1985 says:

            Edit: didn’t notice the “recovered” bit!

            Must be getting sloppy due to the lack of sleep due to recent nights out!

          • Richard says:

            They have – late in the day – sorted out certification for us trialists. It means we are treated as vaccinated when re-entering The UK. However, the only country that recognises Novavax currently is Greece – everywhere else regards me as unvaccinated.

  • Lyn says:

    “and France is once again open for British tourists”

    but only for British tourists who are fully vaccinated surely?

    Since the UK is on France’s orange list, visitors from the UK who aren’t fully vaccinated still need “pressing grounds” for travel.

    • JP-MCO says:

      Are you not vaccinated? If you are why should you care? Can’t say I give a flying flamingo about the unvaccinated being unable/more hindered to travel.

      • Barnaby100 says:

        Plenty of people are not double vaccinated. Those in their 20s who went as soon as called by age are only single vaccinated.

        • JP-MCO says:

          If it was that important why wait? Where I live in England it would have been very easy to be fully vaccinated in four weeks. There are multiple medical centres across the city where you can walk in for your first and second jab with only 4 weeks between doses and no appointment required. If you really wanted to you could be in your 20s and be fully vaccinated by now. I know that Rhys from HfP is and he’s mid-20s as are many friends I know. I don’t think that’s really much of a concern these days.

          • JP-MCO says:

            Just to add as a datapoint – I’m in my late 30s, was called by my GP for vaccination in mid-May and attended a pop-up clinic 5 weeks later for my second dose.

          • Richard says:

            I’m vaccinated but not recognised, as Novavax not approved yet – and so can’t travel. And NHS has flat out refused to give me an approved vaccine.

          • John says:

            Well if you just want it for the vaccine passport sure, but for improved protection you should really wait 8 weeks

          • HAK says:

            Maybe not everyone lives where you live? Just a thought…

          • Bagoly says:

            @Richard
            How about a pop-up vaccination centre?
            And just don’t mention you have had Novovax?

          • Jonathan says:

            Much harder to get 2nd dose in less than 8 weeks now, NHS England are monitoring centres so it’s very much end of the day dregs now rather than the free for all some locations were.

        • Alan says:

          Exactly. Not everyone is unvaccinated (lack of a double jab) by choice…. despite what the media peddle and boomers would like to think

    • Dave1985 says:

      Wasn’t it already “open”? People just needed to quarantine when they got back.

    • JP-MCO says:

      There’s very few peer reviewed studies that prove or disprove that having a dosing interval of 8 weeks makes the vaccines anymore or less effective than a 3/4/5 week dosing interval. I don’t think we should be drawing conclusions based on one study. Science is about reaching a consensus and we’re certainly not at the point where we can begin asserting that an 8 week dosing interval is better than 5 weeks. I’m not saying you’re wrong but there’s nothing to prove that you’re right either.

  • JP-MCO says:

    Would love to know why the Maldives is still red when they had ~130 new cases yesterday. How very scientific…

    • Anna says:

      Are they using a dubious vaccine?

      • JP-MCO says:

        They’re using a WHO approved vaccine manufactured in China. Should that matter?

    • Navara says:

      What’s the population?

    • Tracey says:

      Transit passengers is the risk.
      Having been there in December 2020, I would say the risk is the airport overcrowding.
      Before travelling we thought the biggest risk were the seaplanes, but the statistics show that the resorts nearest to Male have the most cases. Thought to be staff going back and fore to Male and bringing covid with them.

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