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The Traffic Light System for Travel

15th May, 2021

Finally, on May 7th 2021, transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed that international travel will go ahead again from 17th May 2021. He said: 'We want a summer in which we can reunite family and friends, travel to places we love. We want to start looking outward again.'

Many had speculated on what the traffic light system would look like, predictions varied and changed on a daily basis. It turns out, the list is more cautious than expected.

Here's what the rules for the new traffic light system for travel are:

GREEN
One pre-departure test up to 72 hours before returning to the UK (type unspecified).
One PCR test on or before day two of arrival in England/Wales.
No quarantine unless a test is positive.

Countries with low cases and deaths, high vaccination rates and low numbers of ‘variants of concern’ have been given the green light. These currently include:

  • Portugal
  • Israel
  • Singapore
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Brunei
  • Iceland
  • Gibraltar
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • St Helena, Tristan de Cunha, Ascension Island

It’s worth remembering that other countries’ travel policies will differ from ours; even if the government lists a country as green, we may not be allowed to enter if that country bans international travel. Countries may also have their own testing requirements upon arrival, although many have said they plan to waive quarantine for fully-vaccinated travellers.

AMBER
One pre-departure test.
Quarantine at home for 10 days on arrival in England/Wales.
PCR test required on days two and eight of quarantine (reduced to day five by paying for the cost of an extra test on that day if it's negative).
Amber countries include Spain, Greece and France, and more than 100 other countries, with many in Europe.

RED
One pre-departure test.
On arrival, passengers must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days at a cost of £1,750 per person.
PCR test required on days two and eight of quarantine (included in the quarantine hotel package).
Passengers must book and agree to pay for a quarantine package before departing for the UK.
There are 43 red list countries in total, with Maldives, Turkey and Nepal the most recently-added. Brazil, South Africa and India are also on the list.

This system is set to be reviewed in three weeks time and then again in another three weeks and so on for the feasible future. Countries may move up or down in colour, we sincerely hope we have more destinations to travel to within the green category in time for high-summer and some late winter sun.

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