Since May 17 this year, the UK government allowed travelling for leisure and holidays in England. The travel requirements, including testing and quarantine protocols, will depend on which colour of the country the UK traveller has been from under the UK’s traffic light system for travel.
The traffic light system categorizes countries into colours green, amber, and red. Each colour signifies the risk of COVID-19 in different countries and determines the set of rules around testing and quarantine.
However, the rules governing travel restrictions will change starting from October 4, 2021. According to UK’s transport secretary, Grant Shapps, the country will move to a “simplified system for international travel.
What are the new travel restrictions?
The UK’s traffic light system that once had green, amber, and red lists of countries will be replaced by a two-tier travel system. Under the new rules, the amber list will be merged with green, creating a single list for low-risk destinations.
England is set to ease the testing requirements for travellers from low-risk destinations that are not under the UK’s red list. These include people who are fully vaccinated or those who had both doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
The change will only apply to England as Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland determine their entry and exit travel requirements. Moreover, many governments are still on high alert due to significant concerns the public health.
Also, the increased risk of importing variants of concern will prompt governments to retain their pre-departure testing requirement and use PCR for post-arrival testing.
Do I need a PCR test to travel starting October 4?
UK travellers from countries not on the red list will not need a PCR or pre-departure coronavirus test. Instead, they need to take a lateral flow test on or before day 2 of their arrival. Remember, only fully vaccinated travellers who have received vaccine doses from an approved list of countries are qualified to travel under the UK’s new travel rules.
While the UK will drop its PCR testing and quarantine mandate for vaccinated travellers, unvaccinated travellers from non-red list countries will need to take a pre-departure or Covid-19 test on days two and eight and will need to self-isolate for ten days.
Keep in mind that the new travel rules and testing requirements will not immediately be imposed as the UK government aims to give private testing providers time to adjust. Hence, the current testing requirements will remain in effect until later in October.
Here is some information about the travel requirements for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals:
If you are fully vaccinated, you must:
- Complete a passenger locator form before within 48 hours before arriving in England.
- Book a test for coronavirus for a post-arrival coronavirus test to be taken on or before the second day of the trip.
If you are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, you must:
- Complete a passenger locator form within 48 hours before arriving in England.
- Take a pre-departure coronavirus test within three days before travel.
- Book for two post-arrival coronavirus tests to be taken on or before day two or on or before day eight.
- Self-isolate or quarantine for ten days after arrival. Travellers can end their quarantine early if they pay for a private COVID-19 test, also called the test to release scheme.