COVID-19: No more isolation for fully vaccinated arrivals from France, as India moved off red list
Fully vaccinated travellers and under 18s arriving in England from France will no longer need to isolate, while India is coming off the red list.
The Department for Transport has set out the government’s latest COVID-19 travel update, with all of the changes taking effect from 4am on Sunday.
There were worries that Spain – where it is thought up to a million Britons are currently on holiday – could have been added to the red list.
The country will remain in the amber category, although travellers arriving back from Spain are being urged to take a PCR test before flying home “as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country”.
Many people currently use lateral flow tests, which are cheaper, to meet the testing requirement.
In a surprise move, the cost for solo travellers staying at a quarantine hotel will go up from 12 August, from £1,750 to £2,285.
The charge for an additional adult sharing a room will increase from £650 to £1,430.
According to the government, this is to “better reflect the increased costs involved”.
Seven countries are moving to the green list: Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway.
This means people will not have to quarantine when returning from these nations, regardless of their vaccination status, although they will have to take a pre-departure test before flying home and another two days after arrival.
India, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will move from the red list to amber, meaning travellers will no longer have to pay to quarantine in a hotel for 11 days.
Returning from amber list countries has usually meant a 10-day period quarantining at home – but under-18s and those fully vaccinated in the UK are now exempt, as well as those who have received both jabs in the EU and US.
There are four additions to the red list: Mexico, Georgia and the French overseas territories of La Reunion and Mayotte.
The government said its decision to bin the amber plus list that France was on and align it with the rest of the amber category “simplifies the system to three categories” once more.
But the green watchlist, which gives travellers notice of countries whose green status is at risk of changing, remains in place and is unchanged with 16 countries on the list.
There has been criticism of the government’s travel policy in recent days, including the decision to keep the 10-day quarantine requirement for arrivals from France, regardless of vaccination status, while removing it for all other European countries from Monday.
The possibility of an amber watchlist of countries in danger of turning red also provoked controversy.
It was later confirmed the watchlist would not be introduced this week, with Boris Johnson saying he wanted a “simple” and “user-friendly” system for travellers.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said “we must continue to be cautious”, but the latest changes “reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public”.
The government said UK clinicians and scientists “remain in close contact with their counterparts in Spain to keep abreast of the latest data and picture of cases”.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the announcement was “based on the latest data and expert public health advice”.
He added: “As well as moving more countries to the green list, today’s announcement also demonstrates the need for continued caution.
“Further countries have been added to the red list to help protect the success of our vaccine rollout from the threat of new variants.”
Labour’s shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon said ministers had “plunged the summer plans of thousands of families into chaos” with what he said was their “flip-flopping over France”.
“While everyone wants to see international travel open up, it has to be done safely,” he said.
“Ministers must explain to passengers and the industry how they’ve reached these changes with clear information on the direction of travel of infections in each country.
“Ministers need to get a grip and set out a proper strategy, provide full data, and progress work with global partners on international vaccine passports so travellers and the industry can have clarity instead of reckless U-turns and confusion.”
Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, welcomed the expansion of the green list as a “positive step forward” but said the UK is still a “long way off a full and meaningful restart of international travel”.
She urged ministers to come up with a “much-needed tailored package of financial support to help our aviation industry through the challenging months ahead”.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said the government “is still being too cautious” and there “remains four colour categories” despite promises of a “simpler” system.
“The government is also failing to address the hurdles putting off consumers from booking, namely not giving a week or more’s notice of a country being moved to amber or red, and the high cost of onerous testing,” he said.
“Until these are resolved, the government continues to deliberately keep travel in an armlock.”