Comprehensive changes to the current COVID travel restrictions in the UK were announced on September 17th – including changes to the current traffic light system.

The UK government recently announced that it was scrapping the traffic light system, as it undertakes a major overhaul of COVID travel restrictions in the UK.

Under the new rules, which were announced on September 17th, the green list and amber list of countries will be merged to create a single list of destinations that are classed as “low-risk” – and rules on COVID testing have also been relaxed.

These changes will replace the three-tier system that has been in place since May 17th and which involved each tier having their own testing and quarantine restrictions on arrival back in the UK.

What are the new COVID travel restrictions?

The red, amber and green lists are to be replaced with a two-tier travel system with one tier being a list of low-risk destinations that will only require travellers to undertake one lateral flow test.

In fact, all testing requirements are being dramatically reduced for those who have had both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Fully vaccinated travellers arriving back in the UK will no longer need to take a lateral flow test pre-departure or a PCR test when they arrive back home – if they are arriving from a country on the low-risk list. Both of these test requirements are being replaced by a requirement to take a lateral flow test after arriving.

If you are a traveller who has not had both vaccine doses then you will still need to

  • take a pre-departure test
  • take PCR tests on day 2 and day 8
  • self-isolate for 10 days

These new testing requirements are not due to come into effect straightaway. The new lists will come into force from 4am on Monday October 4th with the new testing requirements due to be implemented “later in October.”

What does all this mean for the traffic light lists?

In the latest travel restriction update on September 17th, eight countries were taken off the red list and moved to the new “low-risk” list from Wednesday 22nd September at 4.00 am, and these are

  • Bangladesh
  • Egypt
  • Kenya
  • Maldives
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Turkey

Which countries are currently on the Green list?

Under the current traffic light system for arrivals, those travellers who are arriving in the UK from countries on the Green List have to take a lateral flow test pre-departure as well as a polymerese chain reaction (PCR) test on or before Day 2 of their arrival back in the UK.

They do not need to isolate on their return, or take any other tests than those outlined above – unless either of these tests comes back as positive.

The countries on the Green list currently, that will be moving to the new low-risk list include:

  • Anguilla
  • Antarctica
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • The Azores
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • British Indian Ocean Territory
  • Brunei
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Cayman Islands
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • Dominica
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  • Grenada
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Israel and Jerusulum
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Madeira
  • Malta
  • Montserrat
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oneo Islands
  • Romania
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
  • St Helenea, Ascension and Tristan de Cunha
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Turks and Caicos

Which countries are currently on the Amber list?

Since the lists were introduced way back in May of this year, the Amber list is the list that many of the UK’s favourite holiday hotspots have been on – such as Greece and Spain.

When the lists were first introduced, anyone arriving from a country on the Amber list had to isolate for 10 days as well as taking tests on Day 2 and Day 8. There was the potential for them to leave quarantine early, however, through the use of the Test to Release test.

However, these rules changed on the 19th July 2021, meaning those who had had both doeses of the COVID vaccine did not need to isolate when arriving into the UK or Scotland. They are still required to take a COVID test three days before returning to the UK, however.

Arrivals in the UK from Amber list countries also have to take a test on or before Day 2 of their return, but are exempt from taking the Day 8 test.

The countries that are currently on the Amber list, and so will move onto the new low-risk list are:

  • Akrotiri and Dhekelia
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Aruba
  • Azerbaijan
  • The Bahamas
  • Bahrain
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Bukina Faso
  • Cambodia
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • China
  • Comoros
  • Congo
  • Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue
  • Cote d’Ivorie
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Curacao
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Djibouti
  • El Salvador
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Estonia
  • Fiji
  • France
  • French Polynesia
  • Gabon
  • The Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Greece (including it’s Islands)
  • Greenland
  • Guadaloupe
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea
  • Guniea-Bissou
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Italt
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kiribiti
  • Kosovo
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Lebanon
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Luxembourg
  • Macoa
  • Madagascar
  • Malaysia
  • Mali
  • Marshall Islands
  • Martinique
  • Mauritania
  • Mauritius
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Morocco
  • Myanmar
  • Nauru
  • Netherlands
  • New Caledonia
  • Nicaragua
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • North Korea
  • North Macedonia
  • The Occupied Palestinian Territories
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Russia
  • Samoa
  • San Marino
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Serbia
  • Sierra Leone
  • Soloman Islands
  • South Korea
  • South Sudan
  • Spain
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Maarten
  • St Martin and St Barthelemy
  • St Pierre and Miquelon
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Sweden
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Tajikistan
  • Timor-Leste
  • Togo
  • Tonga
  • Turmenistan
  • Tuvalu
  • UAE
  • Ukraine
  • USA
  • Usbekistan
  • Vanuatu
  • Vietnam
  • Wallis and Futuna
  • Western Sahara
  • Yemen

Which countries are currently on the Red list?

Arrivals in the UK from countries on the Red list must isolate for ten days in a government managed quarantine hotel, take a test pre-departure, and take PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8 after their return.

The countries that are currently on the Red list, following the announcement on Septermber 17th, are:

  • Afghanistan
  • Angola
  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Burundi
  • Cape Verde
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Congo
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Eritrea
  • Eswatini
  • Ethiopia
  • French Guiana
  • Georgia
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Indonesia
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mayotte
  • Mexico
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Phillipines
  • Reunion
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Suriname
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobego
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuala
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

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