The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has today (24 June 2021) confirmed a number of measures to continue cautiously reopening international travel in a safe and sustainable way.
From 4am Wednesday 30 June, Malta, Madeira, the Balearic Islands, several UK overseas territories and Caribbean islands (including Barbados) will be added to the government’s green list, having met the necessary criteria to be reclassified.
All additions to the green list apart from Malta will also join the ‘green watchlist’, as will Israel and Jerusalem – signalling that these countries are at risk of moving from green to amber.
The full list of countries to be added to the red list includes Eritrea, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mongolia, Tunisia and Uganda, and all measures will continue to be kept under review to protect public health as the top priority. They present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern (VOC), known high-risk variants under investigation (VUI) or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of COVID-19.
All classification changes have been decided by ministers, informed by the latest data and analysis by the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and wider public health considerations, to help the public understand the risks to public health of travelling to different destinations. All measures announced today are designed to give travellers and the travel sector more certainty, will be kept under review, and further action may be taken to protect public health.
In recognition of our successful domestic vaccination programme, and as part of the Global Travel Taskforce’s checkpoint review, our intention is that later in the summer, arrivals who are fully vaccinated will not have to quarantine when travelling from amber list countries. We expect this to occur in phases, starting with UK residents. They will still be required to take a pre-departure test and a test on day 2, and any positive results will be sequenced to continue to manage the risk of importing variants.
At the same time, we intend to remove the guidance that people should not travel to amber countries. Pending decisions on whether under-18s should routinely be offered vaccination, we will also take clinical advice on whether regular testing can provide a safe alternative to quarantine for children accompanied by vaccinated adults.
Further detail will be set out next month including the rules which will apply to children and those unable to be vaccinated, how we will operationalise this approach at the border, and the dates on which these changes will come into effect.
Until these measures are introduced, all passengers, whether vaccinated or not, must continue to abide by quarantine rules for returning to the UK from an amber list country, and it is recommended that people should not travel to amber list countries at the moment. Individuals who fail to comply with their legal duty to quarantine at home following international travel can be fined £1,000, increasing up to £10,000 for repeat offences.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said:
“We’re moving forward with efforts to safely reopen international travel this summer, and thanks to the success of our vaccination programme, we’re now able to consider removing the quarantine period for fully vaccinated UK arrivals from amber countries – showing a real sign of progress.
It’s right that we continue with this cautious approach, to protect public health and the vaccine rollout as our top priority, while ensuring that our route out of the international travel restrictions is sustainable.”
Travel continues to be different this year, and passengers face longer wait times, although government is making every effort to speed up queues safely. Those returning from red list countries will continue to be separated from other passengers in dedicated terminals to be processed as safely and efficiently as possible, before being transferred to a managed quarantine hotel.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said:
“It is very positive news that ministers are following the science and that fully vaccinated people will be able to travel safely without quarantine later this summer.
We are a cosmopolitan country, a small island with strong links to the rest of the world. Exporters want to get out and sell their goods to the world, families want to reconnect after a year of separation. We will work with the government to make this happen as soon as possible and let Britain fly!”
If travelling abroad, you need to take steps to keep safe and prepare in case things change before you go or while you are there. Check the booking terms and conditions on flexibility and refunds, because the situation remains fluid. Many travel firms have changed their terms to be fully flexible. Check and subscribe to FCDO travel advice updates to understand the latest entry requirements and COVID-19 rules – and passengers are advised to check all entry requirements and FCDO travel advice before they book any foreign travel.