Which countries will be on the Green List, Amber List and Red List in the next travel update? What to expect
The latest update on UK traffic light travel restrictions arrived on Wednesday August 4, with movement across all three lists.
However, many popular destinations remain on the Amber List (with quarantine for people who are not fully vaccinated) or on the Red List (mandatory hotel quarantine).
Attention has therefore turned directly to the next review, which will take place at the end of August just as the summer vacation ends.
Here’s what happened with the last announcement and what to expect for some of the key nations that missed the changes this time around.
What happened in the last travel update?
On Wednesday August 4, it was announced that France’s much-maligned orange-plus restrictions would end.
The category was removed, and with the shelving of plans for an “orange watch list”, this meant a return to the three-tier rules of origin system.
Seven countries moved from the Amber List to the Green List after demonstrating a low risk to British public health: Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway.
No country has been forced to switch from the green list to the amber list. However, Georgia, Mexico, Reunion Island and Mayotte have all moved from the Orange List to the Red List, where hotel quarantine is mandatory on arrival in the UK.
India, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are going the other way, from red to amber, opening up the possibility of travel without quarantine for fully vaccinated people.
It was announced that the changes will go into effect from 4 a.m. on Sunday August 8.
Which countries missed the green list?
Although more countries have joined the green list than in any other review, Paul Charles, director of travel advice at the PC agency, suggested the changes had been too cautious.
He said on Twitter: “While there is welcome progress with the Gulf hubs [UAE, Qatar, Bahrain] turning orange, there are still many countries that should be on the green list; there is no guarantee that the government will not change countries in the short term; and no cap on testing costs. Travel remains in a government armlock.
Prior to the announcement, the PC Agency had identified 12 countries that could have gone green, based on a significantly lower number of cases than the UK and an immunization rate of over 50% of their population adult.
The five nations that were identified by the analysis but remained orange in the review were:
- Bosnia and herzegovina
- Czech Republic
If case rates remain low in these destinations, they should have vaccinated enough people by the time of the next review to have a strong demand for inclusion on the green list.
For example, according to figures compiled by Reuters, cases increase slightly in Canada but remain at only 11 infections per 100,000 people over a seven-day period, as in the Czech Republic.
Poland, meanwhile, has only reported two cases per 100,000 people in the past week, although it has vaccinated a slightly smaller percentage of the population.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Mr Charles said: “When you take the criteria of the seven countries added to the [green] list today, so in fact they also apply to countries that have not been added – like Poland, for example, or the Czech Republic or even Canada.
“So there are a lot of countries in the world that should be on the green list, but aren’t. “
What will happen to France and Spain?
Much of the speculation around the latest review centered on France – which was subject to “amber plus” rules – and Spain, which was originally designated for the “amber watch list” before it was removed.
Those looking to vacation in France received a welcome boost with its return to the Amber List proper, but the news was less positive for Spain.
Although it avoided the move to the dreaded Red List hotel quarantine, travelers are now advised to take an additional PCR test rather than a rapid test as part of their pre-departure tests, which could add significant additional costs to family vacations. .
The government called it a “precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country,” Shapps insisting people “cannot ignore” the new requirement, even if it is not the law.
Cases remain high in Spain, with 306 infections per 100,000 population, but that number is dropping and the country’s vaccination rates are expected to move it off the red list.
As the rules have relaxed for France, its rising case rate, which stands at 230 per 100,000 people, means it seems unlikely it will ever join the green list again.
Why are Turkey and Pakistan still on the red list?
The decision to keep Pakistan on the red list in the latest update drew some criticism, with Labor MP Yasmin Qureshi saying it was “clear and blatant discrimination”.
While rates of reported Covid cases are low – only 15 per 100,000 people – the country’s low vaccination rate, believed to be less than 10%, is believed to prevent it from leaving the quarantine category of hotels.
Turkey also remained on the red list as it battles a third wave of infections. The country reported a seven-day Covid rate of 196 per 100,000, which is lower than many Amber destinations, and has reportedly vaccinated more than 40% of its population.
However, Mr Charles suggested that his status could be linked to worrying variants. He said: “The poorly transparent traffic light decision does not refer to why Turkey remains red. But the infection charts suggest that variants are still circulating widely, compared to Spain for example. “
Since the prevalence of the worrisome variants is one of the criteria for the traffic light system, this may continue to be a sticking point during the next review.
When is the next travel update?
Reviews of traffic restrictions at traffic lights in the UK take place every three weeks, with the previous update on Wednesday August 4th.
The last two updates have broken with what was an established tradition of changes being unveiled on Thursday.
This means that the conclusions of the next review will be announced on Wednesday August 25 or Thursday August 26, as the end of the summer vacation approaches.
Unlike other major developments in Covid’s response, updates to traffic lights tend not to be accompanied by a government press conference, with the changes instead being tweeted by Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps.
What are the rules of the traffic light system?
The traffic light system is decided on the basis of the following criteria:
- The percentage of a country’s population that has been vaccinated
- The infection rate
- The prevalence of worrisome variants
- The country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing
There are now five categories of traffic lights, two more than when Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps first announced the system in May 2021.
- Green: arrivals must pass a pre-departure test three days before returning to the UK as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test no later than the second day of their return. Quarantine does not apply (unless the Covid test comes back positive) and there is no requirement for further testing.
- Green Watch List: the same rules as the green list. However, the countries on this list “are at risk of going from green to orange”, potentially in the very short term.
- Amber: all travelers must pass a pre-departure test three days before return and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test no later than the second day of their return. Unvaccinated travelers should also self-isolate for 10 days and have a second PCR test on day 8. An additional five-day optional test may be performed, with a negative result allowing unvaccinated travelers to “test” out of quarantine. The Day 8 PCR test should always be performed regardless of the result of the optional Day 5 PCR test.
- Red: arrivals from Red List countries must undertake a 10 day stay in a managed quarantine hotel at a cost of £ 1,750 per single adult (there is an additional charge for more people in a family group), prior testing departure and mandatory PCR tests on or before the second day and on or after the eighth day. The price of a quarantine hotel stay will increase for bookings made from 4 a.m. on August 12 – it will cost £ 2,285 for a single adult.