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:
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
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 replace the current green and amber lists.
“With no new variants of concern since early May, and with the UK having higher levels of delta infection than most other countries, there is no reason to keep so many countries on the red list. It can be sharply reduced in size to help global Britain, as well as the travel sector, recover strongly,” Charles told The Telegraph.
“There is no scientific basis anymore on which to prevent travel and enforce hotel quarantine from a vast swathe of the existing list.”
Lucy Thackray13 September 2021 15:41
Honolulu’s council votes to destroy Hawaiian island’s ‘stairway to heaven’ hiking trail
The Hawaiian island of Oahu is set to destroy its popular ‘Stairway to heaven’ hiking trail, arguing that it is too dangerous and that the influx of tourists climbing it are damaging the natural landscape.
Honolulu City Council voted unanimously last Wednesday to remove the ascending mountain trail, also known as the Haiku Stairs, in a move that will need to be approved by the mayor to go ahead.
The “Stairway to Heaven” path draws around 4,000 hikers every year for its “Instagram-worthy” vistas – even though climbing them is already against the law. Honolulu officials have set aside $1m for their demolition.
Lucy Thackray13 September 2021 15:08
School trips to the UK hit by Brexit rule change
After The Independent revealed how a Brexit promise will damage inbound tourism still further, reader Jackie Clare has tweeted: “Sad and ill-informed.”
From 1 October, EU citizens will no longer be able to travel to the UK without a full passport.
The move, fulfilling a government Brexit pledge, is expected to reduce inbound tourism – currently 86 per cent down on 2019 levels – still further. It will especially deter school groups from travelling to the UK.
Ms Clare wrote: “The end of an era. The secondary school trip to the UK was a rite of passage for many schools in the EU.
“This requirement, affecting school children on a short trip, is threatening to weaken the link between English language-learning and visiting the UK.”
Simon Calder13 September 2021 14:40
Anyone with ‘a kids’ chemistry set from Argos’ could pose as PCR tester, says industry boss
“Anyone could buy a kids’ chemistry set from Argos and set themselves up as a PCR testing company,” a senior travel industry figure has claimed.
With government leaks indicating that mandatory PCR testing for vaccinated travellers may soon be scrapped, Danny Callaghan, chief executive of the Latin American Travel Association, said: “Sajid Javid said that he wants to remove the PCR testing requirement ‘as soon as I possibly can’, but let’s not forget that this is really only an effort to scrap a scheme that has been a government shambles from day one.
“With testing completely unregulated it seems almost as though anyone could buy a kids’ chemistry set from Argos and set themselves up as a PCR testing company, listed on the government website, charging exorbitant fees and not actually delivering any meaningful tests. Or often not actually delivering the test kits at all.”
Simon Calder13 September 2021 13:57
Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey among most asked-about red list nations
More than one billion people live in the 62 nations on the UK’s current red list of high-risk countries.
At present, arrivals to the UK from these locations must quarantine in a hotel for 11 nights.
The Independent has compiled a list of the 25 nations most frequently named by readers requesting information: Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, the Maldives, Mexico, Montenegro, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Seychelles, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Turkey.
The paper reported that as many as 24 countries could fall off the red list if the beta variant is a key influence on the new “unsafe” list of countries – and said that two government sources had suggested Turkey could be removed from the red list at the next update.
Here is the current status of the UK’s red list, and the rules attached:
Simon Calder13 September 2021 13:22
Law firm brings action against UK government over hotel quarantine
London-based PGMBM has previously sought a judicial review of the regulations which require travellers coming from a red list country to spend 11 nights in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £2,285.
This rule is applicable for everyone, even if they are fully vaccinated and test negative for Covid.
PGMBM said a blanket approach was an “unlawful deprivation of liberty” for those who were inoculated against Covid-19 and a violation of their human rights.
Lucy Thackray13 September 2021 11:39
Testing adds around £100 to cost of trips
Testing is typically adding £100 to the cost of trips abroad, a Business Travel Association (BTA) survey claims.
For passengers going from the UK to destinations for which a PCR test is required, the typical test cost between £50 and £75.
One in 50 travellers also reported that their results did not come back before their flight.
Two-thirds paid less than £50 for their “test to fly” on returning to the UK, while most respondents paid between £31 and £75 for the “day two” PCR test.
Only 24 per cent of those surveyed say it was checked on arrival by UK Border Force.
More than 500 travellers responded to the online poll.
Clive Wratten, chief executive of the BTA, said: “We hope our data revealed today will provide a stark reminder to the government of the many pitfalls of the UK’s current approach to global travel and testing, and we continue to call on them to get global travel moving safely, smoothly and securely once again.”
Simon Calder13 September 2021 11:04
More than 300,000 suspected to have broken quarantine rules between March and May
Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request show that 301,076 cases of suspected quarantine rule breakers were passed to investigators during 17 March and 31 May, reported the BBC.
It is unclear how many of these were determined to have broken the rules.
The Home Office has said it aims to follow up all suspects of breaking quarantine with a home visit.
Lucy Thackray13 September 2021 10:28
Passengers turned away from EU flights due to invalid passports
Several disappointed travellers have contacted The Independent after being turned away from their holiday flights to the European Union this weekend
They had inadvertently breached the EU rules on passport validity that the UK helped to draft while a member, and to which it is now subject.
The European Union says: “If you are a non-EU national wishing to visit or travel within the EU, you will need a passport valid for at least three months after the date you intend to leave the EU country you are visiting, and which was issued within the previous 10 years.”
The Independent has been warning about the passport problems precipitated by Brexit since the start of the year.
But when do you need to renew your passport, post-Brexit?
Simon Calder13 September 2021 09:51