UK transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced a simplified system for international travel following the success of the UK’s domestic vaccine rollout.
The current traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries and territories, and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world from Monday, October 4 at 4am.
Testing requirements will also be reduced for eligible fully vaccinated travelers, who will no longer need to take a PDT when traveling to England from October 4.
From the end of October, eligible fully vaccinated passengers and those with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries will be able to replace their Day two test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England.
Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveler. All passengers will also still need to fill in a Passenger Locator Form ahead of travel.
Testing for unvaccinated passengers from non-red countries will include pre-departure tests, Day 2 and Day 8 PCR tests; test-to-release remains an option to reduce the self-isolation period.
From October 4, England will welcome fully vaccinated travelers from a host of additional countries. They will be treated like returning fully vaccinated UK travelers, and will encompass people from 17 countries and territories including Japan and Singapore, following the success of an existing pilot with the US and Europe.
Shapps said, “Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry.
“Public health has always been at the heart of our international travel policy, and with more than eight in 10 adults fully vaccinated in the UK, we are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape.”
Stewart Wingate, Gatwick Airport CEO, said, “This is a significant and welcome step toward recovery. Fully vaccinated passengers now have a larger choice of destinations and can book with more confidence in the months before Christmas and beyond – free from the need to arrange pre-departure tests before coming back into the UK. We know there is significant pent-up demand for travel, and our staff, restaurants, cafes and bars are ready to welcome back passengers over the coming months.
“We also welcome the news that Day 2 PCR tests will be replaced with the quicker and more affordable lateral flow tests, which will allow us to start catching up with our competitors in Europe and the US, where passenger numbers are already approaching pre-pandemic levels.
“However, we also hope that the remaining constraints, including the Passenger Locator Form, can be removed soon and we continue to call for the slot rules to be reinstated to incentivize airlines, increase competition and provide passengers with greater choice and flexibility.
“Gatwick is doing everything it can to make travel as easy as possible and only yesterday announced that it is further subsidizing cut-price lateral flow tests for holidaymakers.”
Glyn Jones, CEO of London Southend Airport, added, “The government travel update is welcome news, albeit too late to make any real difference to the industry’s peak summer period. Passenger confidence needs rebuilding and we hope that we are finally heading in the right direction.
“London Southend Airport has campaigned for clarity in travel requirements as well as subsidized testing costs. The removal of the traffic light system, and lateral flow test acceptance, is a big step to recovery for the aviation industry, which has experienced significant disruption for the last 18 months.”