UK's traffic light system 'hasn't worked' says Charles
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The Government introduced the current traffic light system in May when international travel resumed after lockdown. However, in recent weeks experts have begun to predict there could be some upcoming changes.
Typically, the Government change countries into different categories at each review based on a number of Covid-related factors.
According to experts, though, the system could be overhauled entirely. But when is this likely to happen, and are there for changes to come before then?
How does the traffic light system work?
The current traffic light system categorises countries as “red”, “amber” or “green” based on a number of factors including, but not limited to, the rate of COVID-19 infections in a country, the risk of “variants of concern” and the number of people vaccinated in a country.
Travellers must follow specific rules based on the colour each nation is categorised as.
Across the board, travellers must fill out a passenger locator form before travel, including details of any relevant tests.
Green kist countries are those considered the “safest” based on the data analysed.
Travellers, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, are able to enter the UK from these countries without quarantine.
However, they must take a pre-departure Covid test and book and pay for a PCR test to be taken on or before day two of their arrival.
Rules for amber list nations currently depend on whether or not a passenger is vaccinated.
Fully vaccinated arrivals follow the same rules for green list countries when travelling from amber list nations.
They must ensure they can provide full proof of having received an approved vaccine 14 days or more prior to travel.
Unvaccinated arrivals are still subject to 10 days of self-isolation when entering the UK.
Along with a pre-departure and day two PCR test, they must also take a day eight PCR test.
Travel from red list countries is currently banned. Only UK and Irish nationals or citizens can enter the UK from these destinations.
They must stay in Government-mandated hotel quarantine for 10 days (11 nights) at their own expense.
The cost of this includes testing throughout the stay.
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When is the next traffic light review?
Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps has said the traffic light system will be reviewed “every three weeks”.
Typically, this happens on a Wednesday or Thursday, with rules coming into effect the following Saturday, Sunday or Monday.
The last traffic light review took place on Thursday, August 26, 2021, with rules coming into force on Monday, August 30, 2021, at 4:00am.
In line with this, it is expected that the next review will take place on September 16, 2021, however, this could occur the day prior.
Posting to Twitter, travel expert Simon Calder said: “Leaks [and] rumours abound on possible changes to the ‘traffic light’ system.
“We expect the usual spin of the ‘red/amber/green’ holiday roulette wheel next Wednesday. Or Thursday.
“But more fundamental changes could be afoot.”
Is the traffic light system expected to be scrapped at the next review?
According to an anonymous Government insider, plans to blend the amber and green list have been discussed by ministers.
However, this is not expected to take place before October 1.
When the traffic light system was created the Government stated it would be reviewed at the beginning of October.
Speaking to The Telegraph, the source who had been “briefed” on the plans explained: “It’s about whether you are vaccinated or not, rather than the country you are travelling to.
“What it means is that green and amber disappear and only vaccination status will count for where you travel.
“For a vaccinated person, just as now all countries apart from red are ‘green’.
“For an unvaccinated person, it means that your travel to a green country might be slightly more difficult.
“There’s a potential psychological boost in that a lot of people think travel to amber is risky whereas if it disappeared, people may be more willing to travel to X, Y or Z.”
Speaking on his Green List Travel Podcast, Simon Calder said: “There have been lots of leaks from possibly politicians possibly fringes of the travel industry that the whole system that governs international travel to the UK could be completely scrapped.
“These leaks have been extremely underwhelming.”
He continued: “The leaks suggest that they are merely tinkering with the travel restrictions rather than aligning the rules more closely with other countries and these seek to balance public health protection with supporting tourism and travel.
“My view very strongly is that you need fundamental changes to end the complex, expensive, incoherent, constantly changing rules.
“Ease the testing system immediately, in fact, move a lot of European countries to that super green category, no testing or quarantine for arrivals.
“At the very least, if you’re a vaccinated traveller from a lower risk country then why have this day two PCR test which is going to cost a lot of money and not do much good?”
What changes are likely at the next review?
The Government has not yet given any confirmation as to whether or not any changes will be made at the next review.
Though there is some speculation among experts, Britons won’t find out of any category changes until the official announcement from the Department of Transport.
In recent weeks there have been concerns that Jamaica could be moved to the red list. Travel operator TUI has already axed many of its holidays to the tropical destination due to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advising against all “non-essential” travel.
Amber list hopes have been raised for Pakistan, Turkey and the Maldives.
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