The UK government has published its latest changes to the travel traffic light system, with seven more countries joining the green list.
From 0400 on Monday August 30 travellers from The Azores, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania and Switzerland will no longer need to self-isolate on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.
Note that not all of the above destinations are currently accepting UK visitors – Canada’s borders for instance are currently closed to arrivals from most countries, although it has “tentative” plans to reopen to fully vaccinated foreign nationals from September 7.
Travellers arriving from green list destinations still need to take pre-departure tests, and a further test on or before Day 2 after arrival.
The changes also see Montenegro and Thailand move to the strictest red list from Monday, “reflecting the increased case rates in these countries and the higher risk that travel from these countries poses to UK public health”.
The Department for Transport said that “The high rates combined with lower levels of published genomic surveillance in Thailand and Montenegro than other countries mean that an outbreak of a new variant or existing variants of concern (VOC) or variants under investigation (VUI) cannot be easily identified before it is imported and seeded across the UK”.
It means that only British and Irish nationals, and those with residence rights in the UK, will be allowed to enter if they have been in either Montenegro or Thailand in the last ten days. They are also required to undergo ten days quarantine in a government-approved hotel, at a cost of £2,285 (£1,430 for one additional adult).
Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, welcomed Switzerland’s addition to the green list, stating that its addition to the green list “can add £3.5 million to UK GDP per week”.
But he added that “Disappointingly, once again there has been no update from the Transatlantic Taskforce. It is essential to the business world that this corridor is opened up safely without delay.”
Meanwhile Sean Doyle, British Airways’ chairman and CEO commented:
“Despite our world-leading vaccination programme the UK’s economic recovery remains far behind our more pragmatic European neighbours, which are already reaping the rewards of a rapid recovery.
“It cannot be right that although 77 per cent of us have been fully vaccinated we have a much more costly, prohibitive and restrictive testing regime than everyone else, when data suggests just four out of every 1,000 travellers tests positive for Coronavirus on their return to the UK, less than the overall rate at home. These stats strongly suggest PCR tests should only be needed following a positive lateral flow test.
“We also need to urgently end the uncertainty caused by the constant threat of changes to countries’ traffic light status. Our ‘green’ list is much smaller than that of the US and EU, despite no new variants being transported into the UK.””
And Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association commented:
“Whilst all extensions of the green list are welcome, the continuing overly cautious approach to international travel only serves to reinforce how long the road to recovery for our airports remains.
“After another summer of historically low passenger numbers which has left us lagging behind our European neighbours, we urge the Government to be much more ambitious in opening up international travel, reduce the cost of testing and replace expensive PCR tests with more rapid and affordable test for low-risk nations.
“Aviation remains a long way off a full recovery and with over half of all aviation employees remaining on furlough, it is vital that the Government provide ongoing financial and employment support to avoid further job losses as a direct result of their overly cautious and damaging approach to international travel.”