‘Traffic light’ update – what the changes mean for international travellers

‘Traffic light’ update – what the changes mean for international travellers
The stand-out move is to end mandatory quarantine from France

The latest round of “traffic light” changes has opened up more of Europe to travellers, with France’s inexplicable “amber plus” status removed – along with the red listing of three Gulf countries plus India.


Just a reminder about the system …

国 (and occasionally individual islands) are assigned into one of five categories:

グリーンリスト: travellers from these low-risk locations need not quarantine on arrival in the UK. A test before departure to the UK and a PCR test on the day of arrival, or one of the two following days, is obligatory.

Green watchlist: green list nations consider at imminent risk of being downgraded to …

Amber list: the default, medium-risk category, covering around 170 destinations – including most British favourites, including Spain, ポルトガル, イタリア, ギリシャと米国. Travellers who have been fully vaccinated in the UK, the US or the EU (plus several other European countries) follow the same rules as green list arrivals. Others must self-isolate for 10 full days after arrival, and take a second PCR test on day eight. In England quarantine can be reduced with a test on day five after arrival.

Red list: only people with the right of residence in the UK can travel from these high-risk locations, and they must pre-book and pay for 11 nights in hotel quarantine.

加えて, アイルランド is on its own with a “super green” status as a nation from which no testing nor quarantine has ever been required.

What changes?

日曜日の午前4時から 8 8月, a number of very prominent countries have been moved.

In terms of the number of affected travellers, the biggest change is that フランス is removed from the bizarre “amber plus” category in which it was placed on 16 July – requiring mandatory quarantine from everyone arriving across the Channel.

France is now plain amber.

The travel industry is relieved that the second-most popular country (after Spain) has been made more accessible, but they are furious that 20 days at the height of the tourist season have been wasted.

Nigel Wonnacott of Brittany Ferries said: “We can only hope that this welcome volte-face will bring a surge in last-minute bookings.”

Anyone who has already arrived from France and is self-isolating, or who arrives before 4am on Sunday morning, will need to complete the quarantine as planned.

The French Indian Ocean island of Réunion – which was blamed for the amber plus rating, yet from which self-isolation was not obligatory for vaccinated travellers – has been moved to the red list, along with nearby Mayotte.

Where else has gone red?

メキシコ, which is very popular as a destination in its own right as well as acting as a holding area for many British visitors to the US; they spend two weeks there in order to “launder” their UK status before being allowed into America. That option will still be open, unless the rising infection rates in Mexico persuade the US to suppress arrivals from south of the border.

加えて, the former Soviet republic of ジョージア is also on the red list.

政府は言う: “They present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern, known high-risk variants under investigation or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of Covid-19.”

The price of accommodation for a couple will rise by 55 per cent from £2,400 to £3,715.

Upgrades from red to amber?

インド – where the Delta variant was first identified – has been moved to amber, which means that family visits, holidays and business trips will be much easier.

ザ・ アラブ首長国連邦, バーレーン そして カタール have also be moved from the red to the amber list – despite their continuing status as international hubs.

When the transport secretary, グラントシャップス, placed the UAE on the red list, 彼は言った: “The specific issue in the UAE is one of transit. It’s because they are a major transit hub.”

独立者 has asked the Department for Transport (DfT) for an explanation of the unexpected change.

Note that jabs administered in the four countries moved from red to amber are not regarded as sufficient to avoid quarantine – only UK, European and US vaccinations allow people to swerve self-isolation from amber list countries.

Who’s gone green?

オーストリア, ドイツ, ラトビア, ノルウェー, ルーマニア, スロバキア そして スロベニア have been moved from amber to green – making them accessible to travellers who have not been vaccinated.

While the change will be welcomed by people with family in those countries, and by some business travellers, none is a mainstream holiday destination.

再び, anyone who returns from any of those countries before 4am on Sunday 8 August must continue their quarantine to the end.

Any hitches in booking a trip to any of the new green nations?

Yes – they may not let you in, or may impose further restrictions. While Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia welcome vaccinated visitors from the UK, the Foreign Office travel advice for Austria begins: “Entry to Austria from the United Kingdom is currently prohibited by Austrian law.”

Germany does not allow unvaccinated visitors from the UK (unless they are under 12, have a negative test and are with a vaccinated parent).

Latvia demands a negative test (rapid antigen will do) from all UK visitors aged 12 オーバー.

Norway does not allow British tourists.

What was predicted to happen, でもしませんでした?

The newly created (and soon to be extinct) “amber plus” category was seen as a possible halfway house for red countries, but India, バーレーン, Qatar and the UAE have gone straight to amber – equalling green for people with the right kind of vaccines.

Some respected data analysts expected ポーランド, ハンガリー そして カナダ to make the green list.

In terms of possible downgrading of countries: スペイン, キプロス そして ギリシャ have been mentioned in leaks, briefings and (sometimes flawed) analyses of data.

But once the proposed “amber watchlist” was dismissed by Downing Street, it was clear that Spain would remain on amber; there are simply not enough hotel rooms for quarantine.

What’s all this about testing before coming back from Spain?

One of the strangest parts of the announcement is this: “Arrivals from Spain, and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.

“UK clinicians and scientists will remain in close contact with their counterparts in Spain to keep abreast of the latest data and picture of cases in Spain.”

Translated, this means: “We’re worried about infection levels in Spain and in order to be able to identify infections contracted there and work out more clearly what’s going on, we’re asking people to take an expensive and complex test that is more sensitive than the lateral flow test.

“But we’re not making it compulsory.”

Rationally, individual travellers will continue to opt for lateral flow tests – especially if they have been infected with coronavirus.

政府は言う: “If you have recently recovered from Covid but are no longer infectious, you should use a lateral flow device (LFD) テスト.

“LFD tests have a lower sensitivity than PCR or Lamp tests, so they are less likely to return a positive result from a historic infection.”

When is the next change?

It is expected to be announced on 25 または 26 8月, and to take effect on 29 または 30 8月. それまでに, for many people the summer – and the prospect of a holiday abroad – will be over.


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