England’s Covid travel red list to be cut to a dozen countries | Health policy


Ministers will slash England’s travel red list to about a dozen countries, however plans for changing the requirement for a damaging PCR check with a lateral move one to keep away from isolation grasp within the steadiness.

Destinations together with Brazil, Mexico and South Africa are anticipated to be moved off the red list on Thursday, which means passengers getting back from them is not going to have to isolate in a lodge for 11 nights at a price of greater than £2,000.

The transfer means restrictions on the border will be at their loosest because the third lockdown started 9 months in the past.

The Foreign Office has additionally introduced it is going to drastically overhaul its travel recommendation. Currently, it nonetheless points recommendation to individuals not to travel to some non-red list countries for all however important causes based mostly on Covid grounds.

This is separate to the well being guidelines that are led by the Department for Transport, however vital as a result of the discrepancy meant that travellers going to non-red list countries weren’t coated by regular travel insurance coverage and so had to pay considerably extra. The FCDO is not advising towards non-essential travel to 32 countries and territories – together with Algeria, Ghana and Malaysia – and can solely reimpose it solely for Covid causes “in exceptional circumstances such as if the local healthcare system is overwhelmed”.

Given the present Covid vaccines have held up towards the Delta variant, which is dominant within the UK and more and more usurping different variants abroad, authorities insiders are more and more assured the transfer to slash the red list is protected.

However, ministers additionally hoped to be ready to announce that PCR checks – which travellers have to check damaging with to keep away from isolation from non-red list countries if they’re totally vaccinated – had been being changed with considerably cheaper lateral move ones.

A supply with information of the discussions mentioned the thought was nonetheless “up in the air” and “not settled yet”, sparking fears the change might be delayed till after the October half-term, when many individuals would be wanting to make the most of relaxed travel guidelines.

The last resolution will be made in a assembly on Thursday morning and is anticipated to be introduced that afternoon. Given well being restrictions are a devolved matter, it is going to be up to the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to determine whether or not to comply with swimsuit.

Brazil and South Africa have confronted the hardest restrictions longer than nearly any nation, as they had been each placed on the red list in January owing to fears that the Gamma and Beta variants that had been found within the two countries respectively had been extra resistant to vaccines. Pockets of Beta instances sprang up within the UK, however Delta was then imported from India and started to outstrip most different variants owing to its excessive transmissibility.

There are 54 countries on the red list, which embrace all of these in mainland South America and southern and japanese Africa. The London-based World Travel and Tourism Council, which represents business corporations, mentioned the sector’s restoration would proceed to be “sluggish” owing to insurance policies such because the red list.

The authorities has been criticised by Tory MPs – together with the previous prime minister Theresa May – for not unlocking worldwide travel as quick as many different countries. Over the summer season, she mentioned it was “incomprehensible” that the UK – being “one of the most heavily vaccinated countries in the world” – was the “most reluctant to give its citizens the freedoms those vaccinations should support”.

Gradual modifications have been made to the principles, together with most not too long ago the axing of the three-tier site visitors gentle system that graded countries red, amber or inexperienced. There is now solely a red list, and all different countries that don’t function on it are handled the identical. However, there are nonetheless totally different guidelines for individuals who are totally inoculated and those that should not, partly in an try, authorities sources have mentioned, to encourage everybody to get each jabs.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, mentioned this week: “We are accelerating towards a future where travel continues to reopen safely and remains open for good, and today’s rule changes are good news for families, businesses and the travel sector.

“Our priority remains to protect public health but, with more than eight in 10 people now fully vaccinated, we are able to take these steps to lower the cost of testing and help the sector to continue in its recovery.”