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Amber list binned as Maldives among 8 countries ditched from red list

·4-min read

The Amber list has been scrapped as Maldives was named among 8 countries removed from red list.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was delighted to tell holidaymakers the UK government were making “testing easier for travel”.

UK travellers rejoiced as Mr Shapps announced the travel shake-up on Twitter on Friday in a series of tweets.

Double-Jabbed holidaymakers will no longer need to take a pre-departure test before arrival into England from a non red list country from October 4.

A beach on the island of Medhufushi in the Maldives (Colin Watts / Unsplash)
A beach on the island of Medhufushi in the Maldives (Colin Watts / Unsplash)

Later in October, travellers will be able to take a cheaper lateral flow test instead of the day 2 PCR test.

Mr Shapps said he hoped the new measures would “strike the right balance to manage the public health risk as No.1 priority”.

He tweeted: “We’re making testing easier for travel. From Mon 4 Oct, if you’re fully vax you won’t need a pre-departure test before arrival into England from a non-red country and from later in Oct, will be able to replace the day 2 PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow.”

Turkey, Egypt, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Kenya will come off the red list from 22 September.

He added: “In addition, EIGHT countries and territories will come off the red list from Weds 22 Sept at 4am, incl. TURKEY, PAKISTAN and MALDIVES.

“We’ll also be introducing a new simplified system for international travel from Mon 4 Oct , replacing the current approach with a single red list and simplified measures for the rest of the world - striking the right balance to manage the public health risk as No.1 priority.”

The Covid travel rules shake-up will likely trigger a huge bookings scramble with travel agencies already reporting a surge in interest in destinations that were tipped to move off the red list.

The Transport Secretary earlier promised to set out new measures to “simplify international travel” in order to “reduce costs, take advantage of higher levels of vaccination, and keep us all safe”.

The extra burden on holidaymakers imposed by expensive for PCR tests and uncertainty over travel rules has been blamed for the collapse in the overseas holidays.

Gatwick and British Airways welcomed the news as a “step towards recovery”.

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick Airport CEO, said: “This is a significant and welcome step towards recovery. Fully vaccinated passengers now have a larger choice of destinations and can book with more confidence in the months before Christmas and beyond - free from the need to arrange pre-departure tests before coming back into the UK. We know there is significant pent-up demand for travel and our staff, restaurants, cafes and bars are ready to welcome back passengers over the coming months.

“We also welcome the news that Day 2 PCR tests will be replaced with the quicker and more affordable lateral flow tests, which will allow us to start catching up with our competitors in Europe and the US - where passenger numbers are already approaching pre-pandemic levels.

“However, we also hope that the remaining constraints including the passenger locator form can be removed soon and we continue to call for the slot rules to be reinstated to incentivise airlines, increase competition and provide passengers with greater choice and flexibility.

“Gatwick is doing everything it can to make travel as easy as possible and only yesterday announced that it is further subsidising cut-price lateral flow tests for holiday-makers.”

Sean Doyle, British Airways CEO and Chairman said: “We welcome the simplification of the traffic light system, and the changes to the testing requirements allowing UK travellers to benefit from our world-leading vaccination programme and finally giving customers and business the confidence to book the journeys they’ve been waiting for.

“Based on the scientific evidence, with fewer than 1% of people returning from low-risk countries testing positive for Covid (lower than the UK’s rate), we urge ministers to keep this policy under review, eliminating all testing for fully vaccinated travellers as soon as possible in the future, in line with most other European countries.”

Heathrow’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: “This simplification of the travel rules is very welcome for businesses and families across the country but the decision to require fully vaccinated passengers to take more costly private lateral flow tests is an unnecessary barrier to travel, which keeps the UK out of step with the rest of the EU. Ministers must continue to work towards friction-free travel for vaccinated passengers.”

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