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England simplifies international travel regulations

The update has been credited to the success of the domestic vaccine rollout

The UK’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps has announced a simplified system for international travel.

The current tiered traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries and territories. The countries on the red list have been reduced, from 62 down to 54, with destinations including Sri Lanka, Oman, Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Kenya and Egypt all moving from red to green from Wednesday 22 September 2021.

For fully vaccinated travellers, pre-departure testing for those heading back to England will no longer be necessary from 4 October 2021. Shapps also said that the Day 2 test will also be replaced with a cheaper lateral flow test by the end of October.

Shapps said: “This change means 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 vaccinated in the UK, we’re now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape.”

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Unvaccinated passengers from non-red countries will still be required to present pre-departure tests, and take day two and day eight PCR tests following arrival. Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take another PCR test to help identify the variant.

The news has been welcomed by the travel industry, although there have been calls for testing to be abolished altogether for those who are fully vaccinated.

Reacting to the news, president of Emirates Airline, Sir Tim Clark, said:

“It’s critical that the travel sector and governments across the world continue to work together to rebuild traveller confidence and the announcements are a hugely important step towards that. Making international travel simpler and more affordable will not only benefit those desperate to reconnect with loved ones, but will be instrumental in the recovery of the economy.

“Since the UAE was moved to the UK’s Amber List, we’ve seen a huge surge in demand and Emirates quickly resumed operations across the UK with plans to operate 77 flights a week between the UK and Dubai by the end of October. Dubai is open and we’re ready to welcome travellers thanks to the comprehensive measures that have been put in place in the air, on the ground, and throughout Dubai.

“We will continue to work with the UK to meet all of its criteria, and hope that those vaccinated in the UAE will soon be considered in the same manner as those vaccinated elsewhere.”

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