Grant Shapps – 2021 Statement on Updates to International Travel

The statement made by Grant Shapps, the Secretary of State for Transport, in the House of Commons on 18 October 2021.

As trailed in my oral statement on 20 September, as of the 4 October, we have:

Replaced the traffic light system with a single red list and simplified travel measures for eligible arrivals from the rest of the world based on passengers’ vaccination status.

Removed the requirement for eligible fully vaccinated passengers to take a pre-departure test, providing that they are arriving into England from a non-red list country or territory and have not been to a red list country or territory in the last ten days. The devolved Administrations have also aligned on this policy.

We have also made the follow changes in respect of international travel:

Lateral flow devices for arrival tests

From 4am on 24 October, arrivals into England who are considered fully vaccinated, along with most under 18s, who have not been in a red list country in the last 10 days will be able to take a lateral flow test on or before day 2 of their arrival, instead of a PCR test. This change will cut the costs of tests in time for travellers returning from half-term breaks and these tests can be booked from 22 October.

Passengers will need to take a photo of their lateral flow test result and send it back to their private testing provider for verification. Anyone who tests positive will need to self-isolate and take a free NHS confirmatory PCR test.

Red list review

The Government have conducted the first review of the red list under our new and simplified system of international travel. As of 4am on Monday 11 October, 47 countries including South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Thailand were removed from the red list.

Given the success of the vaccination programme in the UK and the latest evidence of variants across the world, including the fact that the Delta variant is now dominant in many countries as it is in the UK, we have been able to significantly reduce the red list. However, we remain concerned about the presence of mu and lambda variants in the small number of countries we have kept on the red list. We will keep this list under review.

The following seven countries and territories now make up the red list:

Colombia

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

Haiti

Panama

Peru

Venezuela

All passengers arriving into England from a red list country, or those who have been in a red list country or territory in the last 10 days, will have to quarantine at a managed quarantine service facility for 10 days upon their arrival in England.

Expansion of the inbound vaccination policy

As of 4am on Monday 11 October, we also expanded our inbound vaccination policy to include eligible fully vaccinated passengers who have not been in a red list country in the ten days before their arrival into England, to the below countries:

Albania

Bahamas

Bangladesh

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Colombia

Egypt

Ghana

Grenada

Hong Kong

India

Jamaica

Jordan

Kenya

Kosovo

Maldives

Moldova

Morocco

Nigeria

North Macedonia

Oman

Pakistan

Serbia

St Kitts and Nevis

St Lucia

St Vincent and The Grenadines

Turkey

Ukraine

Vietnam

In addition, we have expanded the policy to a further set of countries and territories which were removed from the red list at this review:

Brazil

Chile

Georgia

Indonesia

Montenegro

Namibia

The Philippines

South Africa

Thailand

Our inbound vaccination policy now covers over 100 countries and territories, and eligible fully vaccinated passengers will be treated the same as those vaccinated in the UK. Eligible fully vaccinated passengers who have not been in a red list country in the ten days before their arrival into England will no longer need to take a pre-departure test before their departure, a post-arrival test on day eight or self-isolate upon their arrival. This now includes UN staff and volunteers vaccinated as part of the United Nations vaccine rollout.

Clinical trial participants

From the end of October, we will also recognise as fully vaccinated people participating in covid-19 vaccine clinical trials from countries and territories including Japan, Canada, Australia and the EU, provided they can supply adequate proof of their participation. This is in recognition of their vital work in helping to tackle the virus and builds on the agreements made at the meetings with G7 counterparts that I chaired in May and September this year.

Acceptance of UK Pre-departure Test Certification via the EU Digital Covid Certificate (DCC)

As of 4 am on Monday 11 October, non-vaccinated passengers arriving into England are allowed to present proof of a negative pre-departure test via the EU Digital Covid Certificate, in either paper or digital formats.

Changes to FCDO travel advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has lifted its advice against all but essential travel for over 80 countries and territories. The change means people will be able to travel to a larger number of destinations with greater ease.

The FCDO will no longer advise against travel to non-red list countries on covid-19 grounds, except in exceptional circumstances such as if the local healthcare system is overwhelmed. Many travel insurance companies use FCDO travel advice as a reference point in their policies, typically excluding cover for places where Government advise against essential travel. However, people will now be able to purchase travel insurance for a wider range of destinations across the globe.

The FCDO will continue to advise against all but essential travel for all red list countries and territories, where the risk to British travellers is “unacceptably high”.

While public health is a devolved matter, the Government work closely with the devolved Administrations on any changes to international travel and aim to ensure a whole-UK approach.