The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) has now removed all countries from its COVID-19 red list.
This means that travelers no longer have to quarantine at a hotel on arrival.
The UK’s coronavirus travel restrictions uses a system inspired by traffic lights, with other countries assigned to green, amber, and red lists. The red list is for regions seen to be high-risk for COVID-19.
On Monday, November 1, the final 7 countries were removed from the red list.
International travelers from all parts of the world can now enter the UK under the same, or similar conditions. At present, no one needs to reserve a room at a hotel at which to quarantine.
Fully vaccinated passengers from approved countries may avoid quarantine altogether, while others will have to self-isolate.
All travelers are still required to fill in the UK Passenger Locator Form online before setting off. This is quick and easy to do.
Although there are no countries currently on it, the red list system will remain in place. The UK government will continue to review the situation every 3 weeks. If any countries experience a surge in COVID-19 cases and/or come to be regarded as high-risk, they may be re-added to the list.
For now, though, travel restrictions have been lowered for all countries. The move has been welcomed by many in the travel industry, who see it as a further step towards normality.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
“This is another step in the right direction for international travel with more good news today for passengers, businesses and the travel sector. We’re continuing to make great progress as we recover from the pandemic and today is another example of how far we have come.”
Which Countries Have Been Removed from the UK’s Red List?
As of November 1, 2021, all countries have been taken off the UK’s red list.
The last countries to be removed from the red list were the following Latin American states.
- The Dominican Republic
Travelers can now avoid hotel quarantine when visiting the UK from these countries.
How Does This Change Affect Traveling to the UK?
The change in UK entry policy means that travelers from all parts of the world can enter the country without having to reserve a room at a designated quarantine hotel.
It also means that all passengers who are recognized as being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (meeting the UK’s criteria) do not need to quarantine at all.
It is the first time this year that this has been the case.
Quarantine hotels continue to be on standby as the red list/green list system is still in place. The British government has said that it may add countries to the red list if the global COVID-19 situation changes for the worse.
According to Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid:
“The red list and quarantine remain vital in protecting our borders – we are keeping a small number of quarantine rooms on standby and will not hesitate to take swift action by adding countries to the red list if the risk increases again.”
Other entry requirements for the UK include filling out the Passenger Locator Form and taking a test on arrival.
The cheaper lateral flow COVID-19 test has been accepted as a post-arrival test since October 24, 2021. If the result is positive, the traveler must take a free PCR test to confirm the diagnosis.
Additional UK entry requirements for certain travelers
There are extra rules for the following groups of people:
- International travelers who are not fully vaccinated
- Passengers arriving from countries not on the approved vaccination list
These rules include:
- Take PCR or lateral flow test within 3 days before traveling to the UK
- Book 2 tests to take after arrival in the UK
- Self-isolate for 10 days after arriving
What Is the UK’s Red List?
During the pandemic, the United Kingdom introduced a “traffic light” system for foreign countries.
Those deemed to be “high-risk” for COVID-19 were assigned to the red list; countries with a moderate risk were designated amber list locations; and places with a low rate of infections were placed on the green list.
Each list had a different set of rules for travel.
The British government’s guidelines advised against visiting red list countries “except in the most extreme of circumstances”.
Passengers traveling to the UK from regions on the red list are required to quarantine in a hotel designated by the government for this purpose. They must stay for at least 11 nights, which can cost over £2,280.
Since February 2021, over 200,000 people have self-isolated in these hotels.
Quarantine was also required when arriving from amber-list countries, but this could be done at home instead of a hotel. Later, fully vaccinated travelers were exempt.
In October, the amber list was dropped completely, leaving only green list (“safe”) and red list (high-risk) countries.
The red list still exists, as does the hotel quarantine policy. However, they currently do not apply for any traveler, since all countries have been removed from the red list. Some locations may be added to the list in future if the coronavirus situation worsens.