UK Government Cuts 87% Of Countries From Travel Red List

The United Kingdom is set to slash its red list of high-risk countries by 87% in a significant shakeup to the rules affecting travel to England. The changes will make it practical for some to easily travel to the UK for the first time since the list was first revealed.

UK Government, Red List, Travel Announcement
The UK government has cut 87% of countries from its red list. Photo: British Airways

On Monday, the UK government’s travel rules changed to make it easier to travel if fully vaccinated with approved vaccination programs. It is set to become even more accessible for many more travelers as the country all but eliminates its Red List.

Major destinations off the red list

Some significant destinations that have been on the red list since the list’s inception are finally set to drop off the list. For most of 2021, South Africa has been firmly on the list of countries, making travel extremely difficult for some and impossible for others. Now, along with Mexico, Brazil, and 44 other nations, it will drop off the list.

Only seven countries will remain on the list after Monday. These countries are,

  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Haiti
  • Panama
  • Peru
  • Venezuela
UK Government, Red List, Travel Announcement
A handful of South American countries remain on the red list. Photo:

British airlines are happy

All airlines will be happy with today’s announcement, with British Airways already commenting to that effect. Sean Doyle, CEO of British Airways, stated,

“It finally feels like we are seeing light at the end of a very long tunnel. Britain will benefit from this significant reduction in red list countries, and now it’s time to turn our attention to eradicating testing for fully vaccinated travellers.”

British Airways, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, United States
Virgin Atlantic is also happy with the changes. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Meanwhile, a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson told Simple Flying,

“We are ready to welcome fully vaccinated arrivals from India, South Africa, and Hong Kong to the UK. However, to ensure the full economic benefits are realised and that Britain’s global ambitions are met, all testing for fully vaccinated travellers from low risk destinations must be removed.”

The system from Monday

From Monday, travel will be reasonably easy to England from all but the seven countries listed above. The UK government’s rules only impact travelers to England, though the other nations of the United Kingdom usually follow changes made in London.

Those traveling from any but the above countries will face a different set of rules depending on whether they are fully vaccinated with a recognized vaccine. If they are, there are no restrictions on travel. A pre-departure test isn’t required, but a passenger locator form and a day two PCR test must be completed. By the end of the month, the government hopes to have downgraded the PCR test requirement to a rapid antigen test. Speaking today, Grant Shapps suggested that the new system may see passengers uploading a photo of a negative antigen test.

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While travel from non-red countries got a whole lot easier last Monday for the vaccinated, those not considered vaccinated by the UK may have a more challenging time traveling. The green list was abolished, meaning that all unvaccinated individuals are now treated as amber arrivals were. This means that they must quarantine for at least five days, take at least two self-funded PCR tests and a pre-departure test.

Hotel Quarantine, COVID-19 Tests, Prison
Demand for quarantine hotels will drop significantly. Photo: Getty Images

Anyone coming from one of the seven red-list countries will only be allowed to travel to the UK if they are citizens or residents. Once they arrive, they will need to spend ten days in a managed quarantine facility at their own expense.

The news is likely to come as a massive boost to the aviation industry, as travel will become more accessible, prompting an increase in demand which airlines will be all too keen to fulfill. It will, however, be a disappointment to hotels with contracts to manage quarantine from red-list destinations, as demand for these will plummet.

What do you make of the UK government’s red list announcement? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!