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‘Red List’ cut sharply from 54 countries to just seven from next Monday

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The Government has, as was widely trailed, taken a knife to the ‘Red List’ of countries which require hotel quarantine when returning to England.

The number of countries impacted will drop from 54 to seven.

Just an important as the removal of hotel quarantine is the fact that the restriction on entering England if you are not a British or Irish national, or do not have residence rights in the UK, falls away.

Red List updated

The Government has also agreed to recognise vaccines given in a further 37 countries, meaning that anyone vaccinated in those countries is treated as vaccinated by the UK authorities.

In a statement, Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: 

“It finally feels like we are seeing light at the end of a very long tunnel. Britain will benefit from this significant reduction in red list countries, and now it’s time to turn our attention to eradicating testing for fully vaccinated travellers to ensure we don’t lose our place on the global stage.

“Once we have a firm date for the reopening of US borders in November, we look forward to reconnecting our two countries, reigniting transatlantic businesses and reuniting families who have been separated for the best part of two years. We are ready, and we look forward to operating our first flights and welcoming back our customers.”

Virgin Atlantic said:

“The considerable reduction in the  Red List and recognition of many more countries’ vaccination status is another positive step towards the UK’s recovery from the pandemic and a boost to international travel.  We are ready to welcome fully vaccinated arrivals from India, South Africa, and Hong Kong to the UK. However, to ensure the full economic benefits are realised and that Britain’s global ambitions are met, all testing for fully vaccinated travellers from low risk destinations must be removed, bringing us into line with Europe and the US. 

“We look forward to receiving the date for the reopening of the US border for fully vaccinated international visitors as soon as possible, allowing the UK to strengthen ties with our most important economic partner, boosting trade and tourism as well as reuniting friends, families and business colleagues.”

What are the changes to the ‘Red List’?

The countries on the ‘Red List’ can be found here.

The changes will kick in for anyone arriving in the UK from 4am on Monday 11th October.

The following countries will REMAIN on the ‘Red List’:

  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Haiti
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Venzuela

The following countries will be REMOVED from the ‘Red List’:

  • Afghanistan
  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Burundi
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile
  • Congo (Democratic Republic)
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Eritrea
  • Eswatini
  • Ethiopia
  • French Guiana
  • Georgia
  • Guyana
  • Indonesia
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mayotte
  • Mexico
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Réunion
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Suriname
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Uruguay
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Why has this change happened?

This article from Gridpoint Consulting gives a good overview of why the ‘Red List’ should have been abolished in full, although today’s announcement is a good start.

The bottom line is that, with no new coronavirus ‘variants of concern’ identified anywhere in the world since May, and with Delta quickly killing off other variants once it is introduced to a country, there are no risk factors to justify hotel quarantine.

What are the ‘Red List’ rules?

Here are the rules which apply to the remaining seven countries on the ‘Red List’.

The rules apply to everyone, irrespective of vaccination status, arriving from a country on the ‘Red List’.

If you have transited in a ‘Red List’ country on your way to the UK, you must follow the ‘Red List’ rules. The Government has announced that this rule will be removed but no date has been set.

You will only be allowed to enter the  UK if you are a British or Irish national or you have residence rights in the UK.

You will need to take a ‘Fit To Fly’ coronavirus test (this does not need to be a PCR test) in the three days before you return to England.

You will need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form before returning to the UK.

You need to book a 10-day quarantine hotel package, which includes the two necessary tests.

Conclusion

You can find out more about the current coronavirus travel restrictions on this page of gov.uk.

One question to be an answered is whether, with so few ‘Red List’ flights now scheduled for the UK, Heathrow Terminal 4 is handed back for normal operation or whether it remains segregated to serve what could be as few as 100 people per day.

Comments (54)

  • davef says:

    Probably one for the daily thread but if I cancel a ticket, I know I’m entitled to refund of unflown UK taxes, but am I entitled to refund of optional things like seat reservation charges?
    Jet2 flight, thinking of cancelling and coming back Lufthansea on an alternate date that jet2 doesnt operate.

    • Blenz101 says:

      No refund, just your tax back.

      See item 14 – https://www.jet2.com/en/terms

      26.3 also says you won’t get your tax back either, I’m sure some airlines impose a refund admin fee that often outweighs the tax if you try to claim the unused taxes. See what they say but just warning you what the terms say.

      • davef says:

        Interesting thanks. Easyjet had no issue refunding taxes via twitter last year.

        • Blenz101 says:

          The “entitled by law” may mean you get something. Was just a heads up that their default position as the terms are written is you get nothing so they may need a push.

          I guess any admin charge should be laid out but that wouldn’t make much sense given they say your not getting anything anyway.

          But the seat reservation is more clear cut.

        • Lady London says:

          Be careful Easyjet had to be asked to refund taxes on flights that were missed as their app failed to alert me.

  • Niall says:

    Well, the DR holiday I booked in 2019 for May 2020 and have since rescheduled 4 times hoping it will come off the red list is now looking impossible. It’s currently scheduled for November 2021 which seems unlikely. Meliá policy only allows the booking to be moved within 2021 and no refund.

    Is Amex Platinum insurance likely to cover this?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Did you hold the platinum card in 2019 when you booked?

      If so should be covered.

      Unfortunately unless it’s late November I agree unlikely to change before then. Next review isn’t until 28th Oct then 18th Nov, assuming they don’t just scrap the whole red list idea by then.

      • Niall says:

        Yeh, held the card then too. Hoping the fact the booking was moved doesn’t impact / count as if I made the booking when advice was against travel. Moving was the only option.

        The booking is end Nov (20th) but imagining the red list changes 18 November, it won’t really help my ability to get there as U.K. flights will already been cancelled. Plus work / life.

  • Michael says:

    Why is Colombia still on the red list? The country has very low infection rates since a while and their vaccination programme isn’t that far behind ours anymore.

    • Niall says:

      It appears to be places where the delta variant is not the primary variant. For Colombia there is the mu variant which WHO has as a variant of concern but CDC doesn’t seem to be worried about.

      • Rob says:

        In that case, they should be encouraging cross-visits – we can them import Delta into Colombia and kill off the variant!

        • Niall says:

          Haha. True. Don’t get me wrong, I think the government’s reduced red list is odd and doesn’t seem right. I also think it’s mad that the government has caused such disruption always with these travel restrictions but never felt the need to publish or explain in any way their workings/thinking.

          It’s just my answer to the question of why is Colombia / DR etc still on the red list. At a guess, the main factor that seems to be considered now if the prevalence of non Delta variants. (Although I’m sure for DR, sharing an island with Haiti doesn’t help).

          • Aaron C says:

            None of it is really logical. It is just a sop to “the scientists” and allows them to keep the process open if they want to ramp it up in future.
            Same with these meaningless tests.

        • Michael says:

          Great idea, it night work.

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