Beginning in early October, the United Kingdom’s government will phase out its much-maligned “traffic light system” for international travel to England.
The government announced on Friday that it will replace the present system, which has been in place since May 17, with “a single red list of nations and territories, as well as simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world.”
In acknowledgment of the global vaccine rollout, travelers who match the United Kingdom’s criteria of “completely vaccinated” will not be forced to undergo costly PCR testing upon arrival and, in some cases, departure to destinations.
In a statement, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said, “Today’s amendments mean a simpler, more straightforward system.”
“One that requires less testing and has lower expenses, allowing more individuals to travel, see loved ones, or conduct business throughout the world while also offering a boost to the travel industry.”
The existing system has been heavily criticized by both the industry and the general public for its perplexing variety of testing and quarantine requirements.
A three-times-weekly evaluation saw countries moving up and down the three-tier scale, with new categories such as “amber plus” and “green watch” established to further confuse the public, resulting in lower passenger trust in international travel.
Some countries were unfairly placed in more restrictive categories, resulting in chaotic scenes as passengers attempted to get in England before quarantine measures were implemented.
“Today, we streamlined the travel rules to make them easier to understand and obey, opening up tourism and lowering the cost of traveling abroad,” Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement.
“As global vaccination efforts increase and more people obtain protection from this awful disease, it is only natural that our rules and regulations keep up.”
Executives in the industry applauded the changes, which will take effect on Oct. 4 at 4 a.m., while some noted that this review was needed many weeks earlier.
Airlines U.K. CEO Tim Alderslade said in a statement that the measure “will provide a genuine shot in the arm for a sector that has not been allowed to trade effectively up until now.”
However, our continued insistence on Day 2 testing places us as an outlier in Europe, given that most EU nations have long abolished this as a necessity for vaccinated passengers, and it is unclear why the UK has chosen to remain a special case. Recovery can never be complete unless all limitations on fully immunized people are lifted.”
The reform, according to Dale Keller, chief executive of BAR UK, “is to be praised; nevertheless, the improved system can only work successfully – and without discrimination – when the fully vaccinated status is recognized for all visitors to the UK.”
Many testing requirements remain costly and burdensome, and a considerable proportion of inbound markets for the UK will continue to be treated unfairly.”
This is in response to the news that only passengers from particular nations’ vaccination status will be acknowledged. Even if the same vaccines were delivered, passengers from South America and Africa will not have their vaccination status recognized in the same way as passengers from other countries.
Another piece of good news for the aviation industry is that travelers transiting “red list” countries on their route to England will no longer be required to quarantine provided their origin country meets U.K. immunization guidelines.
It should be noted that anyone planning to go to the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland is not yet included in Friday’s news because travel laws are determined by the governments of those states.