What are the simplified travel rules and what do they mean for holidaymakers?

Changes to travel rules have seen the traffic light system scrapped.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the new situation for those wanting to arrive from abroad.

– What has changed?

The amber and green lists have gone. From October 4, countries and territories are categorised as either red or the rest of the world.

– Which countries are on the red list?

The red list currently consists of 54 places, including Thailand, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The full list is on gov.uk.

There have been reports the number of red list countries could be slashed to nine later in the week, with destinations such as Brazil, Mexico and South Africa expected to be opened up to quarantine-free travel.

People who are double jabbed and coming from non-red list countries are only required to take a single day-two post-arrival test when coming to England (Danny Lawson/PA)
People who are double jabbed and coming from non-red list countries are only required to take a single day-two post-arrival test when coming to England (Danny Lawson/PA)

– What if I am arriving from a red list country?

People arriving from a red tier destination will still be required to spend 11 nights at a quarantine hotel, costing £2,285 for solo travellers.

– And what about those places not on the red list?

The latest change merges the amber and green list countries into a “rest of the world” area, stripping back previous travel rules.

Passengers returning from non-red list locations do not have to quarantine at all.

– What was the system before?

A risk-based traffic light system determined the testing and quarantine requirements for arrivals into the UK, with countries sorted into green, amber and red categories.

Green meant no quarantine and one post-arrival test, amber meant a 10-day quarantine at home and two post-arrival tests, while red meant hotel quarantine and two tests.

– So what are the testing requirements now?

Fully vaccinated residents – and unvaccinated under 18s – from more than 50 countries and territories not on the red list can now enter England without needing to complete a pre-departure lateral flow test, take a day-eight post-arrival PCR test costing around £65, or self-isolate at home.

Instead, just a single day-two post-arrival test is required.

Under 11s were already exempt from pre-departure testing.

Later in October, eligible fully vaccinated passengers can take a cheaper lateral flow test instead of a PCR test as their day two test (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Later in October, eligible fully vaccinated passengers will be able to take a cheaper lateral flow test instead of a PCR as their day-two test in England (Andrew Matthews/PA)

– What does fully vaccinated mean?

Passengers who have received a complete course of a vaccine authorised in the UK, or the EMA or Swissmedic in Europe, or the FDA in the United States are already recognised as being fully vaccinated.

The Government has further expanded the inbound vaccination policy to another 18 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Canada.

– Are there other changes expected?

Yes. Later this month eligible fully vaccinated passengers with an approved vaccine and recognised certificate from a country not on the red list will be able to replace their day-two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test.

The change is aimed at reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England.

– When will this come into effect?

The Government said it aims to have this change in place for when people return from half-term breaks.

– What has been the reaction to the changes from the travel sector?

The easing of the quarantine and testing regulations has been welcomed by this sector, which has been hit hard during the pandemic.

Industry figures had previously accused the Government of being too slow to relax and simplify the rules for international travel.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, a trade body representing UK carriers, said things are “moving in the right direction” and the changes “will make it easier and cheaper for people to travel”.

– What is the situation in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland?

Ministers at Stormont agreed the removal of the requirement for pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated arrivals from non-red list countries from October 4.

Travellers must book and pay for a day-two PCR test to be taken on or before day two following their arrival in Northern Ireland.

The Scottish Government had declined to change its testing regime, saying a pre-departure negative test would still be required and travellers from abroad who have been vaccinated still required to produce a negative PCR test on the second day after their arrival.

But it announced last month that after “liaising at length” with stakeholders from the aviation sector, the Scottish Government had “reluctantly concluded that, for practical reasons, alignment with the UK is the best option”, meaning pre-departure tests are not required and that it also intends to “align with the UK post-arrival testing regime”.

Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford accused the Westminster Government of risking the health of the country by scrapping day-two PCR tests, urging a a “more precautionary approach” to prevent new strains of coronavirus from entering the country.