Travel rules to be overhauled next week: Do vaccinated Britons still need to test?

Simon Calder says current UK travel rules are a ‘mess’

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Earlier in September, the Department of Transport announced a new plan for international travel rules in a bid to make overseas journeys “more straightforward”. As part of this, certain testing steps have been scrapped for fully vaccinated Britons, meanwhile, the current traffic light system will be overhauled.

However, unvaccinated people still need to follow many of the old rules for travel.

Following the announcement, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said: “Today’s changes mean 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 are now able to introduce a proportionate updated structure that reflects the new landscape.”

How is the traffic light system for travel changing in October?

From October 4, 2021, at 4am the current traffic light system will be replaced with a single “red list” of countries and territories.

People will be able to travel to all other countries but must follow the specific rules applicable to their vaccination status.

Different testing and quarantine rules will apply depending on whether or not a person has received a full course of vaccination against COVID-19.

Simplified travel measures will also be put in place for visitors arriving in the UK from the rest of the world.

According to Gov.UK: “From October 4, England will welcome fully vaccinated travellers from a host of new countries – who will be treated like returning fully vaccinated UK travellers – including 17 countries and territories such as Japan and Singapore, following the success of an existing pilot with the US and Europe.”

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What are the rules for unvaccinated people?

Unvaccinated travellers will still be subject to the quarantine and testing measures currently in place for amber list countries.

From October 4, this means they will still be required to take a pre-departure test before flying to the UK.

They will also need to self-isolate upon their return to the UK, and take both a day two and day eight PCR test.

These tests must be booked ahead of travel with a private firm at the expense of the passenger.

Test to release, which includes another PCR test on day five, remains an option to reduce the self-isolation period.

The reference codes of tests must be included on the passenger locator form for the UK which must be filled out prior to departure.

Hotel quarantine measures will remain unchanged for red list countries, regardless of vaccination status.

Do vaccinated travellers still need to take Covid tests?

From October 4, the new travel rules will mean a more simplified system for those who are fully vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated is defined as people who have had a full course of an approved vaccination.

These passengers will no longer be required to take a pre-departure test when travelling to England from a non-red list country.

They will also be exempt from self-isolation, and must only book and pay for a PCR test to be taken on day two of their arrival.

From “the end of October”, this test will be replaced by a “cheaper” lateral flow test, although the Government has not specified an exact date for this rule change to come into force. adds: “Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller, which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.”

Red list rules remain unchanged, with passengers requiring a stay in hotel quarantine regardless of vaccinated status.

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