Holiday rules get tougher for unvaccinated as green and amber lists scrapped

Travel rules are getting tougher for anyone who has not had both of their vaccine injections.

In a clampdown on jab refuseniks, the Department for Transport announced that unvaccinated people will now have to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival in England and take two PCR tests, whether they are arriving from a red list country or not.

It was part of an overhaul of the UK’s international rules to make it easier for travellers.

People who are double-vaccinated will no longer have to carry out pre-departure Covid tests before returning to England from non-red list countries. PCR tests for travel will be phased out by the end of October, which will allow travellers to replace the second day test with a cheaper lateral flow test.

The government is opting for a “simplified” system for international travel from 4 October. Instead of the current traffic light system, from this date there will be one red list and simplified measures for the rest of the world.

Eight countries will also be moved from the red list from 4am on Wednesday 22 September, including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives.

As with the amber list at the moment, unvaccinated passengers will be able to take a day five “test to release” PCR test to get out of isolation slightly earlier.

See below for how our live coverage unfolded:

Read More

Simon Calder’s travel update predictions: What changes are likely to be made?

Will PCR travel tests be scrapped this month?

Red list roulette: which countries will stay on the UK’s highest risk travel list?

Key points

  • Traffic light system simplified into two lists: red list and ‘rest of world’

  • Pre-departure tests before arrival into England to be scrapped for fully-vaccinated travellers

  • Turkey, Maldives and Pakistan to come off red list from 22 September

Good morning

07:28 , Lucy Thackray

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s travel liveblog, where we’ll be sharing all the latest updates.

What time is the travel announcement expected today?

07:52 , Lucy Thackray

An announcement of major changes to the UK’s rules for international travel is expected later today.

Government leaks to the media in the past week have suggested the top changes could be the removal of the amber list, with just two lists remaining - one of countries deemed safe for travel, one unsafe - and PCR tests being scrapped or reduced for the fully vaccinated.

There have also been suggestions that the red or unsafe list could be more than halved in the coming weeks.

It is unclear whether today’s announcement will be a “roadmap” out of the current travel rules, or one large set of changes to both travel testing and the traffic light lists.

Here’s everything we know so far:

What time is the travel announcement expected today?

Turkey tipped to come off the red list at next update

08:03 , Lucy Thackray

Turkey is the top country being tipped for removal from the red list, in an update to the travel rules that is expected to be announced later today.

Dozens of other countries, including the Maldives, South Africa and Sri Lanka, are also rumoured to be moving off the government’s no-go list, with transport secretary Grant Shapps expected to announce a simplified version of the traffic light system that removes the amber classification altogether.

Countries will instead be divided into either a green list or a red list, eliminating the “grey area” travellers have complained of since the system was introduced earlier this year.

On Tuesday, Covid data analyst Tim White told The Independent that he gives Turkey a 60 per cent chance of coming off the red list at this update.

When asked by one hopeful holidaymaker if he expected it to be removed from red, White replied: “Yes I do. Probably around 60% this week. If not then 80% chance in the 1 October reform.”

Read the full story:

Turkey tipped to come off Covid red list in time for half-term

Don’t book inbound Covid tests until travel update, warns Calder

08:22 , Lucy Thackray

The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, is at Newcastle airport for us this morning, talking to staff and passengers as they wait for the expected easing of international travel rules.

He has tweeted: “Not sure what will change today, but if you’re heading for Spain, France, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Croatia etc there is zero chance of any moves to the red list.

“Please don’t book your inbound tests yet. They can only get cheaper/easier.”

Lateral flow tests ‘not able to pick up variants’, says minister

08:28 , Lucy Thackray

A government minister has suggested that the rumoured change from PCR testing to lateral flow testing for fully vaccinated travellers could hinder the tracking of variants.

Asked whether PCR tests could be scrapped in favour of lateral flow tests for foreign travellers, Environment Secretary George Eustice said: "I haven’t heard that because I’m not on that particular sub-committee that deals with this.

"They will want to consider all the evidence before taking a final decision.

"The rationale for the PCR test is that you can do genome sequencing of variants and you can, therefore, detect possible variants of concern.

"The difficulty with the lateral flow test, although it is cheaper and simpler to do, it is not able to pick up those variants.

"So, that’s the rationale and that’s been the rationale so far for making sure we keep some of that PCR testing in place."

Mr Eustice said that Health Secretary Sajid Javid, while he did not want "unnecessary" testing taking place, he "recognises the value of those PCR tests and that there "is a discussion to be had about this" in government.

Press Association.

Unvaccinated travellers may face mandatory quarantine, reports say

09:10 , Lucy Thackray

Travellers who have not had both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine could face stricter quarantine rules when coming into the UK from any country, reports suggest.

The Telegraph is reporting that all arrivals who have not had two doses of the vaccine at least two weeks prior to entering the UK will have to quarantine for up to 10 days, regardless of where they have been.

This would include countries on the green list, the paper says, although it does not disclose a source.

Ministers are insisting no final decision has been taken on changes to the travel restriction framework. The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, is expected to make an announcement this afternoon.

Read Simon Calder’s predictions for the changes to be announced today:

Simon Calder’s travel update predictions: what changes will be made?

‘Travel restrictions are merely a show of being see to do something to appease the public’

09:30 , Simon Calder

A leading travel industry figure has demanded that the government ease its “onerous, unnecessary restrictions” on holidays abroad.

Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive of the Advantage Travel Partnership, told The Independent: “Let’s hope the government does the right thing and ensures those that want and need to travel can do so freely without the need for onerous, unnecessary restrictions which are no longer about a public health measure but merely a show of being see to do something to appease the public.

"Just ask the government about the many exemptions to testing they have in place. Data analysing international arrivals test positivity rate for the three weeks ending 1 September showed a positivity rate from all countries (including red list) of below one per cent compared with 4.27 per cent in the UK.

“If the government continues to restrict travel to low risk countries for the fully vaccinated – which is at odds with the rest of Europe – then they need to ensure the travel industry including travel agents are given government support to help them keep hold of their businesses, jobs and livelihoods.”

Travel update: the public view from Newcastle Airport

10:35 , Simon Calder

Holidaymakers at Newcastle airport have been expressing their frustration at the tangle of red tape surrounding overseas trips – which the government may finally ease in an announcement now expected this afternoon.

Norman Smith, a company director, is about to fly off on his first holiday for two years: a week in Benidorm.

“We’re normally fairly seasoned travellers, three or four journeys a year. It’s all about Covid,” said Smith.

“Booking the trip was fairly simple, as usual. However the red tape really comes across as someone’s making a lot of money for things that really we don’t need to do.

“As an example, we’ve got a test we’ve brought with us. We do the test ourselves and then they send us a form back to say we’ve complete the test.

Skyscanner reboots travel map for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers

10:46 , Lucy Thackray

In anticipation of the UK’s travel update later today - which, it is suggested, will lay out different rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers - flight booking platform Skyscanner has updated its interactive map tool which shows the different restrictions for those who have and have not had their jabs.

“Since its launch last summer, Skyscanner’s live travel map has been used over 34 million times to help travellers negotiate the complexities of Covid-19 restrictions. Its latest refresh will let vaccinated travellers see how the latest rules and regulations will affect their travel,” read a statement from the flight price aggregator.

Users of the map can select their vaccination status to see which countries have low, moderate or major restrictions for their vaccination status, identified in the traffic light colours of green, yellow and red.

Today’s update needs to ‘deliver to save jobs’

11:46 , Lucy Thackray

The Department for Transport’s travel update, expected for later today, needs to “deliver to save jobs”, a key industry figure has said.

The PC Agency CEO Paul Charles tweeted: “The lifting of UK travel restrictions and testing rules is more urgent than ever. @jet2tweets today became another airline cancelling more flights and holidays due to further weakening of demand, especially for short breaks. Friday’s announcement needs to deliver to save jobs.”

The travel PR boss has been campaigning for the easing of restrictions for months, citing the impact the UK’s strict rules are having on the industry.

Travel businesses are expected to be hit even harder as the furlough scheme ends on 30 September.

Airline Jet2, along with TUI and easyJet, has cancelled numerous flights into autumn due to the ongoing uncertainly around where UK travellers will be able to go, and what the restrictions will be.

Changes could come in immediately after gov announcement, expert predicts

12:07 , Lucy Thackray

A prominent Covid data analyst has predicted that the changes to the travel system being announced today could come in with immediate effect, rather than the usual delayed start date after each announcement.

When asked when he thinks any large-scale changes to the UK travel system will come in, analyst Tim White replied: “I don’t see why [the government] would wait. They should have announced changes yesterday. Delaying that to combine with this reform is understandable but if they’ve made decisions it will just draw criticism to be delayed further.”

There is still no official time for the travel update, though it is understood that it will take place at some point this afternoon.

Read travel correspondent Simon Calder’s predictions for what may change in the expected overhaul of the travel rules:

Simon Calder’s travel update predictions: what changes will be made?

UK should not ‘completely remove all controls on travel’ says variant expert

12:41 , Lucy Thackray

One of the scientists behind the UK’s variant-tracking efforts has warned against a large reduction in PCR testing for travellers.

Alan McNally is a professor in microbial evolutionary genomics, and worked on setting up the UK’s lighthouse laboratories.

Responding to the rumoured updates to the PCR testing requirements for travel, Professor McNally said: “It kind of makes sense if you look at the rates of Covid in the UK right now, they’re high, so probably lateral flow tests will be sufficient for travellers.

“But I don’t think we can just completely remove all controls on travel and travel-associated Covid, we know from the past that travel-associated Covid is very high risk to this country.

“The devil’s in the detail in this and I would really hope there will be a very strong mandate that any lateral flow positive test from travel have to get a confirmatory PCR test because in my opinion we still that genome level surveillance of Covid cases being introduced into the UK from abroad.”

He added: “I do think it’s vitally important we do genome surveillance on travel Covid cases.”

Today’s update will ‘reduce costs, take advantage of higher levels of vaccination’, says Shapps

13:11 , Lucy Thackray

The transport secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed on Twitter that there will be an update on UK travel rules later today.

Shapps tweeted: “I’ll set out measures to simplify international travel later today in order to reduce costs, take advantage of higher levels of vaccination, and keep us all safe,” adding three transport-themed emojis representing aviation, cruise ships and rail travel.

It is still unclear what time the Department for Transport’s announcement will take place, but it is looking likely that it will be late afternoon.

‘Now is the worst time to abandon all these safety protective systems’ – Independent Sage member

13:33 , Simon Calder

Zubaida Haque, a member of the Independent Sage advisory group, has urged ministers not to ease travel restrictions.

Speaking to Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2, she said: “Now is the worst time to abandon all these safety protective systems.

“Vaccines have changed the game. But it hasn’t changed the game in terms of you still falling ill. The Delta variant is significantly more difficult.”

But Ms Haque said: “I do have so much empathy for the travel industry and for people wanting to travel, particularly those wanting to see loved ones.”

She also criticised the government’s performance, saying: “The whole traffic light system has been chaotic, it has been expensive, it has been really unclear. And the worst part of it is that government has tried to do all of this chaotic stuff while still trying to continue with porous border restrictions.”

Revert to pre-pandemic style of FCO advice, says AITO chair

13:43 , Lucy Thackray

The chairperson of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) has urged the government to revert to a pre-pandemic style of travel warnings on foreign countries, ahead of the transport secretary’s announcement later today.

“What we need the government to do is allow the world to open up, allow the industry to trade again,” Gemma Antrobus told ITV news.

She said she was hoping the government would “make it a very clear process of ‘you can go’ or ‘you can’t go’, which we already had in place with the Foreign Office prior to the pandemic” - referencing the reports that there will be simply two categories for countries going forward: safe or unsafe for travel.

“Let’s go back to a place where the world has opened up... and allow consumers to take the risk into their own hands,” said Antrobus.

Also appearing on ITV news, The Independent’s travel correspondent Simon Calder added: “What I hope we will see this afternoon is something that will give travellers much more confidence - because that’s what we are lacking.”

‘Wrong to rule out’ any backward steps on travel rules, says Downing Street spokesman

14:21 , Lucy Thackray

Asked about whether the travel rules changes to be announced today are likely to be permanent, a Downing Street spokesman has cautioned that “the pandemic is still ongoing and there is always the chance of unexpected challenges, such as an even more transmissible or more deadly variant emerging,” the BBC reported.

However, the spokesman added that the successful rollout of the vaccine “is enabling us to move steadily and remove restrictions, as you saw when we came out of Step 4” - referring to the widespread lifting of restrictions that took place across England on 19 July.

“I think it would be wrong to rule out anything in the future but it is important to note that we continue to make steady progress to ease restrictions, and that is very much the intention of the approach we will be taking,” said the spokesman.

Data analysts agree upcoming announcement looks promising

14:42 , Lucy Thackray

Two prominent data analysts have shown enthusiasm for the transport secretary’s upcoming announcements, which he hinted at on Twitter an hour ago.

“And Grant Shapps confirms the update we’ve all been waiting for will come later today… ‘take advantage of higher levels of vaccination’ - things we like to hear, let’s hope ministers mean it!” tweeted analyst Ben McCluskey in response.

Analyst Donal Kane tweeted a similar upbeat message, saying: “ So today supposedly we’ll get news on: Reduction in testing requirements (for vaccinated, anyway), Amalgamation of green and amber, Reduction in size of red list. All welcome, but they could and should go further.”

He added that he would like to see broader acceptance of vaccine certification “from many more countries” and a reduction in the severity of red list restrictions for vaccinated travellers returning to the UK.

“Sounds like steps towards normality, but far to go still,” added Kane.

Mounting fury among travel industry bosses about government plans

15:35 , Simon Calder

Travel industry leaders are seething at what they see as the government’s contemptuous attitude to them, writes The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder.

Airlines, holiday companies and travel agents who are desperate to know – for example – whether and when they can reinstate sales of trips to Turkey.

With rumours that two Caribbean islands, Grenada and Jamaica, could be placed on the red list, there is astonishment at the vacuum of information that ministers have created.

The latest tweet from the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has been ridiculed by Derek Jones – one of the most senior figures in the travel industry.

The chief executive of Der Touristik - parent company of Kuoni, Carrier, Kirker and Journey Latin America - tweeted an image purporting to be from the transport secretary.

It read: “This is an announcement to announce that later today I will be making an announcement.”

Update is ‘too late for many businesses’ says Travel Network Group boss

16:05 , Lucy Thackray

The CEO of the UK’s Travel Network Group - the UK’s largest membership organisation for independent travel businesses- has spoken out about the delay to this week’s update on the UK’s travel rules.

In a statement, Gary Lewis said: “The anticipated simplification of the traffic light system and reduction in the burden of cost of testing for travellers will be welcome news for the travel sector and will hopefully have a positive impact on future bookings. However, these changes will come too late for many businesses who have been severely impacted by a second summer season decimated by Government restrictions and uncertainty over travel.

Business have faced extreme cash-flow problems and with the furlough scheme coming to an end, travel business owners are now in an even more difficult position than last September. Our members are reporting huge inconsistencies between local authorities offering discretionary grants to businesses affected by the pandemic.

Despite funding being available, travel businesses are still not recognised as a sector at-risk. To enable people to keep their businesses afloat and support their families the government needs to urgently provide a dedicated ‘Travel Business Grant’ through the local authorities and ensure consistency of approach from authority to authority. Without renewed and consistent support for all affected travel businesses, the outbound travel industry as we know it will be changed irreversibly.”

New travel lists will be called ‘Red and ROW’, suggests industry boss

16:18 , Lucy Thackray

The travel PR CEO Paul Charles has pre-empted Department for Transport announcements by suggesting that the two lists replacing the traffic light categories may be known as ‘Red’ and ‘ROW’.

“Bye bye green and amber, and hello RED and ROW - red-list and rest of the world. Effective 4th Oct. Pre-departure tests will not be needed if you’re double-jabbed. PCR tests are to continue until near end of Oct, then replaced by antigen, to give test providers time to scale up,” tweeted Charles.

#Kenya, #Oman, #SriLanka, #Egypt, #Maldives, #Turkey, #Pakistan, #Bangladesh being moved out of the red list and into ROW list,” Charles continued, but did not cite a source.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has not confirmed any changes to the UK’s travel system, but an official government announcement is expected in the next hour or two.

We will have all the latest updates as they arise.

Pre-departure tests before arrival into England to be scrapped for fully-vaccinated travellers

16:43 , Kate Ng

Pre-departure tests before arrival into England to be scrapped for fully-vaccinated travellers

The transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced that from 4 October, travellers who have received both jabs of a Covid vaccine will no longer have to carry out a pre-departure test before arriving in England from a non-red list country.

He added: “From later in October, [fully-vaccinated travellers] will be able to replace the day two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow.”

Eight countries to come off red list

16:46 , Lucy Thackray

From 4am on Wednesday 22 September, eight countries and territories will come off the red list, Grant Shapps announced.

These countries include Turkey, Pakistan, and Maldives, but the transport secretary has not released the full list.

Traffic light system ‘simplified’ into one red list and ‘rest of of the world’

16:48 , Kate Ng

Grant Shapps said the government will introduce a “new simplified system” for international travel from Monday 4 October.

He said the new approach will comprise of “a single red list and simplified measures for the rest of the world”.

This will help the UK in “striking the right balance to manage the public health risk as No.1 priority”, he added.

Traffic light system to be scrapped from 4 October, PCR tests to continue until end of month

17:04 , Kate Ng

Lucy Thackray has the details on the major changes to the UK’s rules for international travel announced by the government:

Traffic light lists to end 4 Oct, PCR testing to be reduced end of Oct

New system means ‘less testing and lower costs’, says Grant Shapps

17:07 , Kate Ng

Grant Shapps said the new system was “proportionate” and “reflects the new landscape” of the numbers of those who are fully vaccinated.

He said: “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.”

PA

Which countries have been moved off the red list?

17:29 , Kate Ng

The government has confirmed the eight countries that will move from the red list to the new “safe” list, effective from 4am on 22 September.

They include Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya.

No countries have been added to the red list.

What are the new rules for fully-vaccinated travellers?

17:33 , Kate Ng

From 4am on Monday 4 October, a set of simpler testing rules will apply to fully-vaccinated travellers coming from non-red list countries.

From that date, travellers who have had both jabs of a Covid vaccine will no longer have to take a pre-departure test before arriving into the UK.

From the end of October, eligible fully vaccinated passengers and those with an approved vaccine from a select group of non-red countries will be able to replace their day two test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England.

The government wants to introduce this by the end of October, aiming to have it in place for when people return from half-term breaks.

Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost to the traveller, which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.

Which countries will be on the new “safe” list?

17:53 , Lucy Thackray

It has been announced that the former “traffic light” lists of destinations will be scrapped from 4 October in favour of just two lists.

The green list will be replaced by a list of countries that are deemed “safe” for travel by the UK government, the amber list will no longer exist, and the red list will remain of destinations deemed “unsafe for travel”.

The changes were announced by the UK government in the latest travel update on 17 September, and will take effect from Monday 4 October.

The new look “safe list” - described by the Department for Transport as the ROW or “rest of world” outside of the red list - combines the countries formerly on the green and amber lists, as well as eight new additions that will join it on 22 September.

So which countries will appear on the “safe” or “ROW” (rest of world) list?

Which countries are on the green list?

Which countries are still on the red list?

18:01 , Lucy Thackray

This afternoon, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that from 4 October, the UK’s three traffic light lists will be scrapped, leaving just the red list and one other list of “ROW” or “rest of the world” destinations.

From 4am on 22 September, eight countries will also be removed from the current red list, moving on to the “ROW” list of safe-for-travel destinations - which will replace the current green and amber lists.

This followed a week of anonymous leaks suggesting that the red list would be “slashed” or “halved”, which has not been the case.

So which countries will be on the red list from 22 September?

Which countries are on the red list?

Travel rules get tougher for unvaccinated

18:13 , Lucy Thackray

While testing requirements will be eased for fully vaccinated travellers arriving into the UK from 4 October, travel rules are getting tougher for anyone who hasn’t had both of their vaccine injections.

In a major update to the UK’s travel rules, announced today, the Department for Transport announced that unvaccinated people will now have to self-isolate and take two PCR tests on arrival in the UK - whether they are arriving from a red list country or not.

Countries not on the red list will, from 4 October, move on to a new “ROW” or “rest of the world” list, which will replace the current green and amber lists.

“Testing for unvaccinated passengers from non-red countries will include pre-departure tests, day 2 and day 8 PCR tests. Test to release remains an option to reduce self-isolation period,” reads the government’s statement.

In this case, “unvaccinated” is understood to also cover those who have only had one vaccine injection, as well as those whose foreign-administered vaccines are not yet recognised in the UK.

“Test to release” tests can be ordered at extra cost and taken on day five of isolation - if they come back negative, unvaccinated travellers will be released from self-isolation slightly earlier.

Here’s everything we know so far about the update to the system:

Traffic light lists to end 4 Oct, PCR testing to be reduced end of Oct

'Judge risk of individuals, not countries’

19:24 , Jane Dalton

The World Travel and Tourism Council welcomed the shake-up but called for a system based on the risk of individuals, not countries.

Julia Simpson, president and CEO, said: “The travel and tourism sector has been rocked by the pandemic losing 62m jobs globally. We are pleased to see the back of an illogical traffic light system that caused confusion and distress for travellers. This move to ease restrictions and open up more key destinations, will help restore consumer confidence and get the UK moving again.

“We’re also happy to see that the government has listened to our calls, with double vaccinated travellers no longer needing to take pre-departure tests, and that antigen tests will replace costly PCRs before the end of the busy half-term holiday season.

“While this is certainly a step in the right direction, for the UK to be real leaders, the government should adopt a system based on the risk of individuals, not countries. Placing whole countries on red lists is illogical if you can keep the UK safe by checking an individual’s status and allowing fully jabbed people to travel almost anywhere in the world safely.”

Relaxing rules brings two modest positives, says Simon Calder

19:55 , Jane Dalton

Simon Calder, travel correspondent of The Independent, writes: “And finally, just before 5pm on Friday, Grant Shapps tweeted out some changes to the tangle of travel restrictions that have blighted the summer for many of us.

“My scorecard records two modest positives. But much is still to be done before the UK can be said to have a coherent and effective set of rules governing international travel.

“The first positive: reducing the despised “red list” – countries from which it is necessary to go into hotel quarantine on arrival in the UK, at a cost of over £2,000. Pakistan and Bangladesh have been moved off the red list, which will enable many families to reconnect. So have six holiday favourites: Egypt, Turkey, Kenya, the Maldives, Oman and Sri Lanka. While the data for Egypt was not especially supportive, I am already booking my winter break there.

“The second: reducing the ludicrous and disproportionate testing regime for fully vaccinated travellers to the UK. The test-before-travel will be ditched. As it happens, though, that was the easy part of the multiple testing procedure: plenty of foreign pharmacies and airport testing centres offered fast, professional and cheap lateral flow tests to UK-bound travellers.

“The other component, on arrival testing, is still with us. I don’t count Grant Shapps’ headline of replacing PCR tests as a significant positive. Much has been made about replacing the “day two” PCR (which can also be taken on the day of return or the next day) with a lateral flow test. But for the traveller the booking, paying and testing procedure remains exactly the same. The only difference will be a reduction in cost of perhaps £20.

“Only when the UK follows other major European countries in abolishing testing for fully vaccinated travellers, and reduces the red list to a small core of really risky places, will we be able properly to expand our horizons.

“Friday’s adjustments are not going to change the world; but they will open it up a bit for us.”

Scotland will not drop pre-departure test rule

20:10 , Jane Dalton

Passengers flying into Scotland will still need to take a pre-departure test before returning from non-red list destinations.

Scottish ministers say they will not follow England in removing the requirement for people who are fully vaccinated.

In a statement, the Scottish government said: “A UK government decision to implement proposals to remove the requirement for a pre-departure test in England and to use lateral flow tests on day two have not been adopted at this stage in Scotland due to significant concerns at the impact on public health.”

Transport secretary Michael Matheson said the Scottish government “has concerns that the UK government’s proposals to remove the requirement for a pre-departure test for some travellers will weaken our ability to protect the public health of Scotland’s communities”.

He added: “While we want to maintain a four-nations approach to these matters, we need to consider urgently their implications.”

Drop locator forms, says airport chief

20:59 , Jane Dalton

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick Airport chief executive, said passenger locator forms should be discarded.

“Fully vaccinated passengers now have a larger choice of destinations and can book with more confidence in the months before Christmas and beyond,” he said.

“We also welcome the news that day two 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 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.”

Scepticism over cheaper lateral flow tests

21:20 , Jane Dalton

There is some scepticism about allowing vaccinated passengers to replace day two PCR tests with cheaper lateral flow tests, some people pointing out lateral flow tests can be inaccurate, letting people spread Covid.

“The cheaper route isn’t successful if it doesn’t actually work and gives people a false reading,” one Twitter user told Mr Shapps.

Scotland to ditch traffic-light system

21:35 , Jane Dalton

Scotland will end its current traffic light system for international travel, but will not follow England in further easing Covid-19 testing for those entering the country, the Scottish government says.

From 4 October, the green and amber lists will merge but the red list will remain.

Current amber list rules - which allow fully vaccinated people to avoid isolating - will be the default for non-red list countries.

Vaccinations that took place in 17 countries including Canada, Australia, Israel, and New Zealand will now be regarded as eligible under the rules, joining jabs in UK, the EU, the USA and the European Free Trade Association.

Eight countries - including Turkey, Pakistan and the Maldives - are also being removed from the red list with effect form 4am on Wednesday.

Travellers from Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya will also no longer be required to hotel-quarantine from that date.

But Scotland will not follow the UK government’s decision to ease testing rules.

Those arriving north of the border will still be required to take a pre-departure test before returning - including from non-red list destinations - even if they are fully vaccinated.

Travel industry relieved

21:55 , Jane Dalton

The travel industry has responded with relief to the easing of the UK’s government rules on international journeys, writes Simon Calder:

Travel industry relief mixed with fury after government eases rules

Which countries are on the green list?

22:05 , Jane Dalton

There are 51 countries and territories on a new ‘safe to travel’ list, which will replace the former green and amber lists:

Which countries are on the green list?

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