Government briefings indicate that the current “traffic light” system that restricts travel to the UK is likely to be dismantled soon.

The UK has by far the highest infection rates for any major country in Europe, yet it also imposes the strictest rules on arrivals.

A total of 62 nations and territories are on the UK”s “red list,” representing a total population of well over one billion people.

Appearing on the red list is effectively a travel ban, with arrivals from those countries required to go into 11 nights of hotel quarantine once in the UK – at a cost, for a solo traveller, of £2,285.

So which countries might leave the club – and which nations should join? Tim White, the Covid data analyst who tweets as @TWMCLtd, has given his expertise to The Independent.

He has trawled through the genomic sequencing records held by Gisaid, the worldwide database, with a focus on variants of concern.

Staying on red

Fourteen nations, says Mr White, are likely to remain on red: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Egypt, French Guiana, Montenegro, Philippines, Seychelles, Suriname, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia.

Mr White offered this commentary: “Brazil uploaded many hundreds of samples, but 41 per cent were Gamma.

“Chile reported 37 per cent of its sequenced positive cases were Gamma, while almost 10 per cent were Lambda and another 16 per cent were the most recent variant, Mu.

“Colombia will be kept red because of lack of quality data.

“Costa Rica uploaded only four samples, two of which were variants.

“Suriname and French Guiana are likely to stay red with Gamma variant circulating widely.

But, he added: “Most scientists believe most of the variants circulating in South America are not more likely to evade vaccines so there is an argument to allow them all off red.”

Elsewhere in the world, he said: “Montenegro is Europe’s most infected country.

“The Philippines registered an all-time record recently

“Seychelles has still quite high rates.

“Tanzania has never bothered reporting any samples to the collective, so it is almost certain to stay on red, more so considering the government’s attitude to the virus has been to pretty much deny its existence and punish people for posting things about it.

“Thailand submitted very little data. Given the fear over mutant strains and Beta in particular, I think Thailand will stay red until it can do more genomic sequencing.

“Tunisia had awful figures for number of travellers arriving into UK infected with Covid-19.”

Added to red

Tim White picked another 10 nations not currently on the red list which, he said, have high case rates or were “fibbing about figures”, meaning they should probably be added to the red list.

These were Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cote d’Ivoire, Fiji, Grenada, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Russia and Venezuela.

All of these are currently amber, except Grenada – currently on the “low-risk” green list.

Mr White speculates that Iran, Iraq and Russia have avoided the red list up to now “for political

The UK’s traffic light travel system could be simplified to just two lists – a ‘go’ and a ‘no go’, similar to the current green and red lists, say sources.

In the wake of reports by the BBC and The Telegraph last week, The Telegraphis now reporting that double-jabbed travellers will be able to take cheaper lateral flow tests before and after travel to the UK from abroad.

Paul Charles, CEO of the PC Agency, has told the paper that up to 24 countries could move straight from the former red list to a new green list, with the red list expected to be “significantly shrunk”.

The government last week declined to comment on any big changes, saying: “Our international travel policy is guided by one overwhelming priority – protecting public health.

“The next formal checkpoint review will take place by 1 October 2021.”

In other news, more than 300,000 people are estimated to have broken quarantine rules between March and May.

Follow the latest travel news below:

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Dominican Republic, Indonesia and the Maldives ‘should come off red list’, says expert

A dozen high-profile countries – all with either a big population or very popular with British travellers, or both – should be removed from the UK’s red list, a data analyst and travel expert has said.

Tim White, who tweets as @TWMCLtd, has given his expertise to The Independent.

These are: Argentina, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Kenya, Maldives, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

He notes, though: “If cautious, Mexico may need to stay a while longer, and Dominican Republic needs help to conduct genomic sequencing.

“Some scientists will say it’s a risk taking South American countries [including Argentina and Peru] off the red list with Gamma, Lambda and the latest “Mu” variant all in circulation to some degree.

“But most scientists believe most of the variants circulating in South America are not more likely to evade vaccines so there is an argument to allow them all off red.”

Simon Calder13 September 2021 16:23

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Argentina, Egypt, Oman and South Africa could come off red list, says expert

South Africa, Argentina and Pakistan are among the countries that should be removed from the UK’s red list, travel industry expert Paul Charles has said.

“There have been no new Covid variants of concern since 11th May,” he tweeted this morning.

“Our analysis shows 24 countries should come off the UK red list immediately, including Argentina, Egypt, Kenya, Namibia, Oman, Pakistan, SouthAfrica, Uruguay, Zambia.”

Charles’s company The PC Agency has researched the red list countries with low enough cases and no variants of concern, to determine possible candidates for a move from the current 62-strong red list to a new “safe” list, that would

Through the most recent update regarding the Coronavirus situation of countries within the EU, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has revealed that the spread of the COVID-19 and its variants continue to be just as prevalent, though, in some particular areas, the situation is improving compared to the beginning of August.

In line with the figures published by ECDD today, September 9, only the following three countries and four regions, which have detected less than 50 positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants during the last 14 days, are currently placed in the green category:

  • Czechia
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Region of Italy: Aosta
  • Region of Romania: Transylvania
  • Regions of Slovakia: Prešov and Košice

Consequently, this means that travel to these countries/regions is safe. In addition, in general, travellers from these countries and regions reaching the other EU Member States should not be subject to any entry restrictions. Still, it is up to each Member State to decide on its rules, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

On the other hand, more regions have been moved to the orange category compared to last week’s update since their COVID-19 situation has slightly improved.

Sweden is one of the countries that last week was mostly red, but since it has been registering fewer infection cases, the whole country is now coloured orange.

According to the updated maps of September 9, the following countries and regions are now part of the orange category:

  • Canary Islands
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Latvia
  • Madeira
  • Malta
  • Sweden
  • Half of Italy
  • Half of Norway
  • Regions of Austria: Carinthia, Styria, Lower Austria, Burgenland, Tyrol
  • Regions of France: Normandy, Pays de la Loire, Centre-Val de Loire
  • Region of Spain: Asturias
  • Romania, except for Transylvania

Travel to and from any of the above-mentioned countries and regions is not discouraged. However, unvaccinated and unrecovered travelleres may be subject to strict entry restrictions, and those who are vaccinated may be required to undergo testing requirements, depending on the rules of each country.

In contrast, ECDC has suggested that strict rules should apply to all areas placed in the red category since they have registered more than 200 Coronavirus infection cases per 100,000 inhabitants during the last two weeks.

Countries that have been listed as red on this week’s map are as follows:

  • Greece
  • Bulgaria
  • Liechtenstein
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Ireland
  • Iceland
  • Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Estonia
  • Lithuania
  • Cyprus
  • Slovenia
  • Regions of Norway

The Member States are advised to impose pre-departure test and self-isolation requirements against all persons arriving from the countries listed above.

“This should also apply to essential travellers provided that this does not have a disproportionate impact on the exercise of their function or need. Transport workers, however, should in principle be exempted from testing and quarantine/self-isolation requirements,” the EU Commission has advised.

>> Which EU Countries Permit Entry for Fully Vaccinated Travellers So Far

It’s been less than a week since the European Union removed the U.S. from its ‘safe list’ of countries for nonessential travel, and already some of the most-visited of the bloc’s 27 member states have reacted by clamping down with additional Covid-19 travel restrictions for Americans.

The E.U. recommendation is non-binding, so it’s up to each individual country in the bloc whether to impose additional restrictions. Already, it’s clear that travelers will not find one universal policy throughout the E.U., as a messy patchwork of different rules and regulations is emerging across the continent.

Here are the European countries where it has become more difficult for Americans to travel.

E.U. Countries Where Americans Are Virtually Banned Outright

Sweden: As of September 6, the U.S. is now off Sweden’s list of “safe countries.” This means American tourists are not permitted to enter Sweden for non-essential reasons, regardless of vaccination status. The U.S. had previously been exempted from Sweden’s entry ban for non-E.U. residents. 

Norway: U.S. travelers are not allowed to enter Norway, with the exception of those visiting close family members. Travelers must show a negative result from a Covid-19 test taken 24 hours prior to departure and must also take a test upon entry. (More: U.S. Embassy)

Bulgaria: Two days after the E.U. removed the United States from its “safe travel list,” Bulgaria put the U.S. on its “red zone” list. Individuals arriving from the United States, regardless of their citizenship, are prohibited from entering Bulgaria. American tourists may visit Bulgaria, however, if they arrive from a country on the “green list” or “orange list,” and present either proof of vaccination against Covid-19, a recent negative Covid test result, or proof of recovery from Covid-19. (More: U.S. Embassy)

E.U. Countries Where Americans Now Face Tighter Restrictions

The Netherlands: The Dutch have imposed some of the toughest new restrictions on American travelers. As of September 4, the Netherlands considers the U.S. to be a very high-risk area. Only fully vaccinated Americans may enter the country AND they must comply with a mandatory quarantine requirement. In addition, travelers also must present a negative Covid-19 PCR test or a negative antigen test performed within 24 hours prior to departure for the Netherlands. (More: U.S. EmbassyNetherlands Entry Checklist)

Demark: Unvaccinated Americans are now banned from entering Denmark. Previously, all U.S. travelers could enter the country with only a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery. The entry requirements for vaccinated tourists remains the same.

Italy: All travelers from the U.S., regardless of vaccination status, must now present a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days of their arrival in Italy. Unvaccinated travelers must also quarantine for five days after arrival and then get tested again. (More: Italian Health Ministry)

Spain: Since September 6, Spain requires U.S. to show proof of full vaccination and submit health information to the Spain Travel Health portal, which generates

The list of restrictions for people traveling from the United States to Europe is growing as European Union members implement new rules amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

EU countries including Spain, Denmark, Italy and Norway are tightening restrictions for tourists traveling from the U.S. in the wake of the European Union’s removal of the country from its safe travel list and as COVID cases continue to rise stateside.

The EU’s August move signaled to member states that they should no longer ease restrictions on nonessential travel for people from the U.S. amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. The U.S. was added initially to the EU’s safe travel list in June.

►At-home COVID-19 tests:Here’s what travelers should know

►Can Americans visit Europe this fall?:It’s complicated. What travelers need to know.

Spain requiring proof of vaccination

Spain began requiring proof of vaccination from travelers coming from the U.S. starting Monday. U.S. citizens can enter Spain for non-essential tourism by showing proof of vaccine, according to the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Spain and Andorra.

“Additionally, U.S. citizens traveling from the United States to Spain must present upon arrival in Spain a QR code generated through the Spain Travel Health portal, obtained through the website or by downloading the ‘SpTH app’ in Google Play Store or iTunes App Store for each traveler, regardless of their age,” the Embassy said on its website.

The rule applies to all coming from the U.S., even if they stopped in a third-party country before entering Spain.

Denmark bans unvaccinated tourists from the U.S.

Denmark is banning unvaccinated tourists from the U.S. The change came after the country moved the U.S. to its “orange” travel advisory category on Saturday. Previously, U.S. tourists could enter Denmark by showing a negative coronavirus test or proof of recovery. 

Some unvaccinated people from the U.S. can still enter Denmark with proof of a negative COVID-19 test but will need to have “a worthy purpose” such as work, school or legal matters, according to a joint website of the Danish authorities. Unvaccinated travelers permitted to enter will be required to quarantine.

Entry requirements do not change for fully vaccinated U.S. travelers, who are still exempt from testing and quarantine requirements. 

Bulgaria moved U.S. to its ‘red zone’

Bulgaria announced earlier this month it would move the U.S. into its “red zone” and prohibit travel from the United States, regardless of vaccination status, as the country faces its fourth surge of COVID-19. 

Italy added testing, isolation requirements

Italy added testing and self-isolation requirements for American travelers at the end of August after the EU removed the U.S. from its safe travel list.

Though the most dramatic policy changes affect unvaccinated travelers – who are still welcome to enter the country, so long as they take the time to self-isolate – vaccinated travelers will have to jump through additional hoops of new testing requirements. Travelers can offer proof of vaccination through a paper card with a CDC logo.

Sweden barring travelers

For now, many countries are allowing U.S. travelers, though some are adding new entry requirements.

Spain, for example, had some of the least restrictive rules but beginning Monday, U.S. travelers will only be allowed to enter the country if they first present a QR code generated through the Spain Travel Health portal. In addition, U.S. tourists must also show one of the following: proof of vaccination, a negative Covid-19 test or a certificate of recovery. Children under 12 are exempt from these requirements.

Italy now requires fully vaccinated Americans to provide a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival. In addition to showing a negative test, unvaccinated travelers must also quarantine for five days upon arrival and then be tested again.

Beginning Sept. 4, unvaccinated Americans can’t travel to the Netherlands for nonessential purposes, such as vacations. Vaccinated travelers will need to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival.

Unvaccinated Americans are also prohibited from traveling to Denmark unless they have a “worthy purpose” for entry as defined by the Danish government, which might include being a student or au pair, or attending a documented business meeting. Fully vaccinated Americans are allowed to enter for any reason, including tourism.

Other countries have decided to temporarily stop tourism from the U.S. Sweden implemented a ban on nonessential travel from the U.S. that will go into effect Monday, and applies to vaccinated vacationers.

Read the full article.

(CNN) — The prospect of European travel for Americans has begun to diminish once more as countries adopt new measures in response to a recent surge in US Covid cases.

Earlier this week, the European Union announced it was dropping the United States from its safe list, advising its 27 member states to reconsider allowing entry to nonessential US travelers.

Many prime tourist destinations that welcomed back much-needed visitors from the United States earlier this year, have so far chosen to ignore the non-binding EU advice. Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden have become the first to impose new rules.

Beginning on September 4, the Netherlands says the United States will be designated a “high risk area,” joining Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia as fresh additions to this list, according to a government website.

While travelers from these and other high-risk countries will be allowed entry if fully vaccinated, they must still quarantine for 10 days. And as of September 6, they must also produce a negative Covid test.

Sweden, which had previously exempted US travelers from a ban on almost all non-EU arrivals, has also removed the country from its approved list, alongside Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

Pandemic-battered tourism industry

The country said in a press release the measure would apply to all nonessential arrivals, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, although those with Swedish resident permits who can produce recent negative tests could be exempted.

It added Swedish authorities were considering whether to allow fully-vaccinated arrivals from certain counties and would “return to this issue at a later date.”

Italy, which was one of the first European countries to open its borders earlier this year, has also introduced new measures affecting arrivals from all destinations, including the US.

On August 31, it began requiring all visitors to show proof of a PCR or antigen Covid test taken within 72 hours of travel, regardless of whether they are vaccinated.

Those travelers who are not vaccinated or have proof of recovering from Covid must quarantine for five days on arrival and take a swab test, according to Italy’s Ministry of Health.

It’s unclear yet whether other European countries, many of whom have been banking on an influx of US visitor dollars to help revive their pandemic-battered tourist economies, will also revise rules.

Covid cases have been rising sharply in the United States throughout July and September, with the disease’s Delta variant blamed for many new cases.

Top image credit: Antonio Masiello/Getty Image

Livia Borghese and Nada Bashir contributed to this story

(CNN) — Solo travel wasn’t considered safe, ideal or trendy for Indian women 25 years ago.

Those who traveled alone were often criticized for defying cultural and societal norms — dismissed as adamant, single women who didn’t care about their own safety.

But that didn’t deter Dr. Sudha Mahalingam. When she tagged along on her husband’s work trips abroad, she used the opportunities to tap into her adventurous side.

Her husband, not fond of exploring, would ask Mahalingam to visit the touristy landmarks with a local guide. But she disliked planned trips and packaged tours.

Dr. Sudha Mahalingam on a visit to Machu Picchu, Peru.

Dr. Sudha Mahalingam on a visit to Machu Picchu, Peru.

Courtesy Sudha Mahalingam

“Packaged tours are so predictable,” she tells CNN Travel. “They show you what they want to show not what you want to see.”

Two decades ago, Mahalingam quit her job in mainstream print journalism and switched careers to take up energy research. Soon after, she started receiving invitations to speak at international conferences in oil producing countries and the world of travel opened up to her.

Skydiving in Australia, trekking in Borneo

Owing to a hectic schedule of managing work and family, Mahalingam often had no time to organize her travel, so most of her early trips were sudden and unplanned.

She landed in the Czech Republic without a valid visa, faced the challenge of finding vegetarian food in China, got accidentally locked in a monument in Iran and was caught without proof of a yellow fever vaccination at the airport in Nairobi, Kenya.

Mahalingam visited the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador in 2013.

Mahalingam visited the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador in 2013.

Courtesy Sudha Mahalingam

Though Mahalingam sometimes travels with friends, most of her journeys are solo.

Her most recent international trip, to see lemurs in Madagascar in 2019, was one of her favorite adventurous moments.

“It was absolutely uncharted territory, un-touristy and had very few facilities. It was hardship travel and the way that I like. I was on a boat for three days and the boat didn’t have a toilet,” says Mahalingam of the ride up the Tsiribihina River to Tsingy on the western coast of Madagascar.

“Tsingy is full of jagged blade-like rock formations jutting straight into the sky. It’s quite steep and very difficult to climb these rocks and it lacerates the hand and foot. But after climbing to the other side, you see creatures you don’t see elsewhere in Madagascar.”

Another adventure that stands out for Mahalingam was her trip to Borneo in Southeast Asia.

“There were creepy crawlies everywhere and mounds of leaves one meter high. You put your foot and won’t know if a serpent would twist itself around your leg or whether a scorpion would sting you. It was pouring all the time. I have been to the Amazon jungle as well but it was a cakewalk compared to Borneo,” she says.

Mahalingam has indulged in different adventure sports too, including scuba diving and hang-gliding. She’s also trekked to Everest base camp and, at the age of 66, went skydiving in Uluru, Australia.

The United States on Monday raised the travel risk alert for Germany, Switzerland, and several other European countries due to the high rate of COVID-19 in those counties.

Switzerland, Estonia, North Macedonia, Azerbaijan, and Saint Lucia have been listed in the level 4 category, meaning they are among the highest-risk destinations for travelers, according to the latest advisory from the US Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Germany, Canada, and Moldova have been bumped up to level 3, “reconsider travel,” up from level 2, due to “a high level of COVID-19.”

US territories Guam and Puerto Rico were also deemed high-risk.

EU takes US off safe travel list

The move comes a day after the European Union recommended its member states reimpose travel restrictions on US tourists amid rising infections in the country.

The European Council announced Monday that it was taking six countries, including the US, off the safe list of locations for nonessential travel during the pandemic.

“Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia, and the United States of America were removed from the list,” the body representing the bloc’s members states said in a statement.

However, the guidance was nonbinding on the national capitals.

The US has been recording 1,200 COVID-19 deaths per day nationwide, the highest levels since mid-March.

Meanwhile, its new daily infections are averaging over 155,000, a rate last seen in January.

How are CDC advisories issued?

According to the CDC criteria, level 4 or “very high” risk destinations are those with an incidence rate of more than 500 new cases per 100,000 population over the past 28 days.

Level 3 destinations are those that have 100-500 cases per 100,000 people over the same period.

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The pandemic has shifted the way Americans are traveling—and even the hurdles to get into international destinations. Countries around the globe now have travel insurance requirements for Covid-19-related expenses before you can gain entry.

Related: Compare & Buy Travel Insurance For 2021

Here’s what you need to know as you start using your passport again.

Understanding Other Countries’ Travel Insurance Requirements

Some countries are mandating that visitors buy travel medical insurance that covers Covid-19.

“With Covid-19 still a factor in the safety of international travel, many countries understand there is a financial risk that is associated with a person contracting the virus and needing treatment, especially if they are not a resident,” says Ronni Kenoian, a spokesperson for InsureMyTrip, a travel insurance comparison provider. “Travel insurance provides a way for the countries to allow travelers in their borders while still protecting their country from a financial burden.”

According to Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison site, the required travel insurance for Covid-19 typically includes coverage for medical expenses in case you contract the virus during your trip. Insurance requirements may also include specific coverage for the extra costs of quarantining in case you test positive for Covid-19 while traveling.

Note too that many countries require a recent negative Covid test for entry and sometimes additional forms like health questionnaires.

Breaking It Down: Travel Insurance Requirements by Destination

Anguilla: All incoming visitors must provide proof that they have health insurance that can cover Covid-19 medical expenses.

Aruba: All incoming visitors are required to purchase Covid-19 travel insurance from the Aruba government.

Bahamas: There is a mandatory Bahamas Health Travel Visa fee that varies in cost based on length of stay. It provides the health insurance mandated by the Bahamian government.

Bermuda: All visitors must have an insurance policy that can cover Covid-19 medical emergencies.

Cambodia: All visitors must have insurance that will cover at least $50,000 for Covid-19 treatment.

Cayman Islands: Incoming visitors must have a travel insurance policy for Covid-19 medical expenses.

Chile: Visitors must show proof of a health insurance policy that provides coverage for Covid-19.

Costa Rica: As of Aug. 1, unvaccinated travelers must provide proof of travel medical insurance with $50,000 in coverage for Covid-related medical treatment and $2,000 for quarantine lodging expenses while in Costa Rica, in case you’re quarantined and unable to return home as scheduled.

French Polynesia: Visitors must purchase travel insurance with coverage for Covid-19, or must sign a declaration to pay all costs if they contract Covid-19.

Israel: Visitors must have medical travel insurance with coverage for Covid-19.

Jamaica: Visitors are required to pay a mandatory insurance fee earmarked to cover medical treatment for Covid-19.

Jordan: All travelers must purchase a travel insurance policy that covers Covid-19 medical expenses.

Lebanon: Travelers must