Grant Shapps announces 47 countries removed from red list
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Britain will remove all remaining countries on the coronavirus travel “red list” as the coronavirus threat from foreign countries eases. Ministers are expected to meet on October 28 to discuss reducing the current red list and removing the need for mandatory hotel quarantine stays.
Currently, seven Latin American countries remain on the red list after it was heavily reduced earlier this month.
These countries are Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
They are expected to be taken off the list after an update which is expected from the Government at 5pm.
The new rules are expected to only apply to England, but the devolved administrations have recently implemented Westminister’s changes to international travel rules.
The red list will maintain as a “lever” which can be used by ministers in the future in the face of dangerous variants abroad.
Mandatory hotel quarantine is required for red list countries – costing £2,285 per person for the 10 days required.
Thousands of hotel rooms designed for this purpose remain on standby according to The Times.
The Government previously slashes the red list from 54 countries earlier this month – and now this list will be reduced further.
Travel experts have been calling for the removal of the red list for some time.
Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, said: “There’s no justification now for any country to be on a red list or for hotel quarantine to be in existence.
“There have been no new variants of concern since May and countries are now learning that blanket border measures, such as blocking whole countries, don’t work.
“The best approach is to check for an individual’s vaccine status and ensure they are up to date if they want to travel without restrictions.
“It’s encouraging that the UK Government have finally cottoned on to this.
“The current seven countries on the red list, such as Panama and Colombia, will be delighted if they are taken off it later today.”
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The upcoming COP26 global summit on climate change in Glasgow is understood to be a primary motivation for the move.
The red list update will mean the seven countries currently on the list will be able to attend the summit when it begins on October 31.
In lieu of the red list and hotel quarantines, Ministers are expected to devise a separate plan – likely instead requiring travellers to self-isolate at home for 10 days, irrespective of vaccination status.
However, it is not believed this measure will be unveiled on Thursday and instead could be withheld until the New Year.
A source told the Telegraph: “There is a strong desire to abolish the red list, but a final decision will be taken on Thursday.
“It has been very much the expectation with the added pressure of Cop26.”
The proportion of positive test results from red list travellers in hotel quarantine dropped to 0.77 per cent in the middle of this month which is fewer than one in 120 people.
In contrast, the proportion testing positive in the UK stood at 1.14 per cent.
The Delta Covid strain is the most prolific and widespread variant currently circulating around the globe.
This strain is already dominant in the UK and therefore the red list is deemed an ineffective measure in this case.
Testing rules for travel also changed this week with the Government easing the testing regime for fully-vaccinated holidaymakers.
Those returning to the UK are no longer required to undertake expensive PCR tests – and instead can use cheaper lateral flow swabs.
The changes to testing also include the removal of pre-departure tests required for double-vaccinated travellers meaning.
Unvaccinated travellers are still required to take pre-departure tests, two PCRs on arrival and must quarantine on their return to the UK.
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