Following the Department for Transport’s announcement on 17 September, the UK’s travel traffic light system was scrapped this morning at 4am.
Going forward, there will be no amber or green list to consult before travel – only one crucial red list (currently containing 54 countries), and a ROW or “rest of the world” list containing all the rest.
The other big change today is for unvaccinated travellers and those who have not yet had both doses of the vaccine – they will have to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival back into the UK, whether they are coming from a red list country or not.
“Today’s changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry,” said transport secretary Grant Shapps when the changes were announced.
In other travel news, Turkey and Croatia have both removed the requirement for a pre-travel PCR test for double vaccinated passengers arriving from the UK.
Follow the latest travel news below:
Trans-London train line to close overnight
15:47 , Simon CalderNo Thameslink trains will run through central London between and London St Pancras International overnight. The line via City Thameslink and Farringdon will be closed unexpectedly between midnight tonight and 5am on Tuesday for emergency repairs.Thameslink connects two London airports, Gatwick and Luton.National Rail Enquiries is telling passengers: “Network Rail has to fix a set of faulty points in the tunnels in the area of London St Pancras International.“They have to do this through the night as any other time will cause large scale disruption to Thameslink services.“Thameslink is currently working on a plan for their Sutton/Luton, Horsham/Peterborough and Brighton/Bedford services, and will give further details when journey planners have been updated.”Passengers will be able to use bus or Tube alternatives at no extra cost.
Could the red list be drastically cut down this week?
15:09 , Lucy ThackraySome industry sources are reporting that the UK’s red list will be dramatically slashed later this week, with The Telegraph going as far as to say it will drop from 54 countries to just nine.If true, this would mean that double vaccinated travellers returning from countries including Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa would no longer have to quarantine in a government-mandated hotel on arrival into the UK.It is worth noting that similar predictions were made ahead of the last travel update on 17 September, with many outlets reporting that the red list would be “slashed” on that date - but in the end, only eight countries were removed from a 62-strong list.The red list is expected to be reviewed this week, with changes announced on or around Thursday 7 October.
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The Independent’s travel expert Simon Calder says: “It’s increasingly clear that the UK’s preposterous 54-nation red list is causing substantial economic and emotional harm while conferring zero public health benefit.“When ministers began imposing hotel quarantine eight months ago, they were riding a wave of popular support, and have added a couple of dozen additional countries to the utterly disproportionate travel restrictions through panicky responses supported by incoherent data.“I imagine quite a lot of effort is being expended to find justifications for keeping the likes of South Africa on the red list for much of the year, and for subsequently unlocking them.“At the last round of changes, when the red list was reduced to ‘only’ 54 countries, most of the eight were crowd-pleasers including Egypt and Turkey. If the government wishes to generate more positive coverage, then you can expect to see Thailand, the Dominican Republic and South Africa all taken out of the mandatory hotel quarantine category.”Read the full story:UK’s Covid red list ‘to be slashed from 54 to 9 countries’
Ukranian airline introduces comfy trousers and trainers for female cabin crew
14:21 , Lucy ThackrayUkranian low-cost airline SkyUp is offering its female cabin crew comfier trouser-suit uniforms with smart white trainers from next month.The new outfits replace the traditional pencil skirt and heels, a less practical look still favoured by many airlines.The carrier posted photos of the new look uniform on Instagram - a slouchy orange trouser suit with bright white trainers.“Times have changed, women have changed, so in contrast to the conservative classics, heels, red lipstick and a bun, a new, more modern and comfortable image of a ‘champion’ has appeared,” said a SkyUp executive.She described the new uniform as: “Freedom, natural beauty, individuality, no patterns and sneakers in which everyone would like to fly.”Read the full story:Budget airline swaps cabin crew skirts and heels for trousers and trainers
Simon Calder answers your travel questions
13:44 , Lucy ThackrayAs the UK’s travel system switches from the convoluted traffic light categories to a more straightforward pair of lists, the outlook for our autumn and winter holidays is hopeful.Still, there are questions around whether people who haven’t had both jabs will be able to access some destinations, which date the US might open up in November, and which countries are letting UK travellers in - not to mention testing and Covid restrictions in individual destinations once on the ground.The Independent’s travel expert Simon Calder will be online answering reader questions at 4pm tomorrow. Submit your travel questions in the comments section of this article:Simon Calder answers your travel questions as traffic lights scrapped
Turkey and Croatia drop pre-travel PCR tests for double jabbed Brits
12:23 , Lucy ThackrayTurkey and Croatia have both ended the requirement to show a Covid PCR test result on arrival in the countries for fully vaccinated travellers from the UK.Instead, double jabbed arrivals may show their Covid vaccination records, while those not fully vaccinated can take an antigen test and show the negative result on arrival.The Turkish Tourism Board said in a statement: “Turkey is ready and excited to welcome back travellers from across the UK this month and beyond.“With no requirement for PCR tests, and following our removal from the UK government red list, travelling to Turkey couldn’t be easier.”Read the full story:Turkey and Croatia drop pre-travel PCR tests for fully vaccinated Brits
UK recognises vaccines from 17 new countries
10:49 , Lucy ThackrayAnother major change to the travel rules today is that the UK now recognises vaccines from 55 countries and territories, including Cyprus, Ireland and the UAE.On 17 September, the Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed that from October it would increase the number of countries from which travellers’ vaccination certificates will be recognised.“From 4 October, England will welcome fully vaccinated travellers from a host of new countries – who will be treated like returning fully vaccinated UK travellers – including 17 countries and territories such as Japan and Singapore, following the success of an existing pilot with the US and Europe,” read a DfT statement.Here is the full list of countries from which vaccine certificates are now recognised:Which countries’ vaccines are recognised in the UK?
What’s on the red list?
10:24 , Lucy ThackrayThis morning saw a crucial change to the UK’s travel rules, with the green and amber “traffic light” lists being scrapped in favour of two lists: a red list, and a ROW (rest of the world) list.But what’s on the red list these days?Until two weeks ago there were a whopping 62 countries on the list of unsafe-for-travel destinations, but during the most recent change on 22 September, eight countries were removed, including Turkey and Egypt.There was further confusion for travellers, however, as countries such as the Maldives and Sri Lanka were removed from the red list, but the Foreign Office continued to advise against all but essential travel to those countries.This conflicting FCO advice has now been removed for the Maldives, Egypt and Sri Lanka.Find the full list of countries on the red list here:Which countries are on the red list?
New ROW (‘rest of world’) list replaces green and amber travel lists
09:08 , Lucy ThackrayIf you found the UK’s travel traffic light system confusing, today sees a welcome change - as of 4am, the green and amber lists have been ditched, leaving only the red list of unsafe-for-travel countries, and another ROW or “rest of the world” list.But what’s on the ROW list?Formerly amber countries such as Spain, Greece and France will join formerly green countries such as Slovenia, Switzerland and Canada, with the same set of rules for each.The rules for the ROW list are different depending on whether you’re fully vaccinated, or “unvaccinated” (which in this case includes anyone who hasn’t had both doses of the vaccine, or anyone who has been vaccinated in a country whose vaccine is not recognised by the UK).Still with us? Here’s the full set of rules for travellers to ROW list countries:What is the ‘rest of world’ (ROW) list and which countries are on it?
Hopes that British Airways Gatwick operation will resume
08:41 , Simon CalderDespite the apparent collapse of a deal between British Airways and the pilots’ union over the resumption of European flights from Gatwick, The Independent understands that talks are continuing behind the scenes – and that a better agreement has been reached.The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) is expected to ballot its members on the deal, which will involve Gatwick flight crew being employed on different terms than their Heathrow counterparts.A British Airways spokesperson confirmed: “Our short-haul operation at Gatwick was consistently unprofitable and we were clear that we could not re-start short-haul flights unless we were able to establish a competitive platform. “While we have been actively pursuing alternative uses for our slots, last week BALPA asked us to resume discussions. These talks were constructive, addressed key concerns and have secured the efficiencies required. BALPA is now taking a new proposal to its members.”
What are the new rules for unvaccinated travellers?
08:22 , Lucy ThackraySignificant changes to the UK’s travel rules for unvaccinated travellers (including those who have not yet had both doses of the vaccine) came into force this morning.Prior to 4 October, travellers returning to the UK from green list countries who had not received two vaccine doses were not required to home quarantine.Under the new rules, this has now changed.If you haven’t been vaccinated, or have only had one dose of the vaccine, you are required to self-isolate at home for 10 days on arrival in the UK, and must take PCR tests on days two and eight (with the option of a day five “Test to Release”).Isolation rules for travellers returning to the UK from a red list country are the same regardless of your vaccination status.Both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers returning to the UK from a red list destination will need to pay to stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel. Those breaking this rule face a fine of up to £10,000.Read the full story:What are the new rules for unvaccinated travellers?
What are the changes to travel testing in the UK today?
07:56 , Lucy ThackrayTravel testing requirements changed in the UK today, as of 04.00 this morning.They are now primarily dependent on two factors: your vaccination status and whether the country you’re returning from is on the government’s red list.If you’re double-jabbed, new travel rules are arguably set to become easier. Double-vaccinated travellers journeying back to the UK from non-red list (”ROW”) countries will no longer have to carry out a pre-departure Covid test, but will still be required to book a PCR day two test to take within the two days after their arrival. However, PCR tests are set to be phased out by the end of October, which will allow travellers to book a cheaper lateral flow test for the day two.Read the full story here:What are the new rules around travel testing in the UK?
07:54 , Lucy ThackrayGood morning and welcome to The Independent’s live blog, where we’ll be following all the latest travel news.