UK empties red list but COVID tests still in place

Posted: 15 December 2021 11:42 am

Travellers with masks

All 11 countries on the travel red list were removed today, as the Omicron variant spreads throughout the UK.

The UK government has emptied the travel red list, removing the 11 countries that were placed there at the end of November.

Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe were on the list until this morning.

The UK operates 2 travel lists: a red list and a “rest of world” list. Travellers arriving in the UK from a red-listed country must quarantine in a specialist hotel, at a cost of thousands of pounds.

Due to spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant within the UK, health secretary Sajid Javid said the list no longer had much purpose.

“Now that there is community transmission of Omicron in the UK and Omicron has spread so widely across the world, the travel red list is now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad,” he said.

COVID testing for travel will remain. For fully vaccinated travellers, this takes the form of a “test to return” test before they start a journey to the UK, and a PCR test after arrival, on day 2. Those who aren’t fully vaccinated must take additional tests and precautions.

Travellers have to pay for tests for travel; NHS tests can’t be used. Finder has published a comparison of COVID tests, including prices, which are checked regularly.

The government website states how the red list is kept under constant review and that countries and territories can be added to the red list at any time.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have aligned on removing the 11 countries on the red list.

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