England ending travel red list and hotel quarantine programme

Oct 28, 2021

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England is taking another huge step towards normalising travel by removing all seven remaining countries from its controversial travel red list and ending the hotel quarantine programme. U.K. government officials met Thursday to officially end the scarlet travel category, which banned all but the most essential travel from countries that found themselves on that list.

The change takes place for arrivals from 04:00 on Monday 1 November 2021. There has not yet been any decision announced for any travellers currently completing hotel quarantine.

200,000 travellers have stayed in hotel quarantine accommodation since it was introduced in February earlier this year, spending more than £400 million for the privilege.

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“We have been able to do this now because the variants of concern that we have been tracking are no longer of concern to the chief medical officers.” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps explained. “This is a great boost for travel and all those people employed in the travel sector”.

Mr Shapps said the system would be reviewed again in the new year and the hotel quarantine system could be reintroduced if new variants are discovered.

The move is not a complete surprise. In fact, the writing was on the wall that the red list was on its way out. From 11 October, just seven nations remained on the dreaded red list — Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Haiti, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. All will be removed from Monday. Officials at that point had removed 47 countries from the banned list. The elimination of banned travel is another indicator that the threat of COVID-19 is receding to the point that regular travel patterns and protocols are deemed safe enough to resume.

Along with dropping the red list, U.K. ministers also removed the requirement that travellers from banned countries to book expensive hotel quarantine in government-supervised accommodations. The hotel quarantine costs £2,250 per adult traveller, an expensive addition to travel costs.

Related: What kind of COVID-19 test do I need to travel and how much does it cost?

The point of the travel red list was to reduce the chances of travellers importing new variants of the coronavirus into the UK. It also applied to people who have been in or transited through the banned countries in the past 10 days.

Featured image by Leon Neal for Getty Images

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